Structures of Yukos Spent $1,000,000 on Criticism of Putin in the US Congress

Translated by Ollie Richardson


The ongoing anti-Russian hysteria in the American Congress connected with the continued support and extension of all new anti-Russian initiatives, which especially aggravated after the events of 2014, is fuelled not only by the general trend of demonizing Moscow, but also financial injections by the structures under the control to the former oligarch, and now also political manager in exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky. According to the data of the system of disclosure of lobbyist activity in the US Congress, structures affiliated with former shareholders of Yukos regularly supplied Washington lobbyists with essential sums for the creation of a negative image of Russia.

Between 2008-2015 Yukos spent $996,000 on informing politicians of the US Congress and State Department on the situation concerning the criminal cases of Yukos. Lobbyist Prime Policy Group and its director Lisa Colangelo acted as the direct representative of the interests of the company. A lobbying topic between 2008-2015 was regular updates of information on the current judicial proceedings surrounding Yukos and providing this data to such US authorities like the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Security Council, and State Department of the US.

The greatest escalation of the situation with the publicizing of the lawsuit of Yukos for US officials took place in 2014:  Matt Salmon [from the Republican party – ed] sharply criticized on August 1st, 2014, President Putin during a speech in Congress connected with the subject of Yukos. In particular, the congressman noted in 2014 that Russia trampled on the rules of international law, having violated the Energy Charter, and probably plans to avoid implementing the claim of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, and Vladimir Putin’s actions must be condemned and he should be held accountable.

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Similar thoughts about Russia avoiding to implement the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague were introduced on September 18th, 2014, by the democrat congressman Eliot Engel during a speech before Congress. In the same speech he emphasized that the European countries must deprive Russia of the property that is in their jurisdiction in favor of compensations established by the ECHR and Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

It should be noted that during the period between 2008-2013 the formulation on lobbyist cards practically didn’t change, and sounded like: “Lobbying subject: to keep politicians informed of the events about the current affair of Yukos. Authorities: House of Representatives, Senate, Security Council, and State Department of the US”. At the same time congressman Salmon, and, characteristically, congressman Eliot Engel not only spoke in Congress, supporting the decision on the arrest of Russian property on the claim of the former shareholders of Yukos, but also distinguished themselves with the introduction of other resonant anti-Russian initiatives.

Engel was the coauthor of a bill on toughening the anti-Russian sanctions, suggesting to oblige, in particular, the US authorities not to recognize at all in any way Russian sovereignty over Crimea, and even obliging the State Printing House of the United States to publish maps with Crimea as a part of Ukraine.

Khodorkovsky’s attempts to influence American congressmen concerning the issues of recognising the “illegality” of the decisions on the cases against Yukos have a long history and are in turn closely bound with similar efforts of the owner of the Hermitage investment fund William Browder on the “Magnitsky case”, which as a result led to the acceptance, perhaps, of the first package of sanctions against Russia pre Crimea events.

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Khodorkovsky and Browder in November of last year, speaking at special hearings in the British Parliament, jointly promoted the idea about the introduction of the so-called global Magnitsky Act. The total expenditure of Mikhail Khodorkovsky for lobbying the anti-Russian sanctions – nearly $1,000,000 – demonstrates that the former oligarch hasn’t lost interest in the issue of a certain form of compensation for lost assets, interweaving these attempts into the more general context of the global Russian-American conflict.

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