Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Daily Telegraph: Opposing Putin

EXTRACT: Putin loyalists have taken control of the economy, particularly the energy sector, reining in foreign firms such as Shell and humbling those, such as the imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who refuse to fall into line.

Saturday 14/04/2007

Being an opposition politician in Vladimir Putin’s Russia must be one of the most thankless tasks in European politics.

Take the “Other Russia” group, for example. This week, it plans to stage demonstrations in Moscow and St Petersburg against President Putin’s ever more autocratic regime.

It has been denied permission, and the protests, if they go ahead, could be broken up by riot police. Garry Kasparov, one of Other Russia’s leaders, is a former chess champion.

That may make him a master tactician, but going up against Putin is like playing a game in which all of your pieces, bar a couple of pawns, have been swept off the board.

The Kremlin will say that Russia is still a democracy. But it is one in which the media are firmly under state control, and in which the chief area of competition between the dominant political party, United Russia, and the opposition coalition, A Just Russia, is over which can be more extravagant in its praise of the president’s actions.

Putin loyalists have taken control of the economy, particularly the energy sector, reining in foreign firms such as Shell and humbling those, such as the imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who refuse to fall into line.

In such a society, the only possibility of change comes from the top – as exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky has recognised, repeating this week his mischievous pledge to fund a palace coup.

Mr Berezovsky, now resident in London, is a veteran of Kremlin in-fighting from the time of Boris Yeltsin, and no doubt hopes to exploit tensions within the leadership over which of the president’s lieutenants should succeed him, while escaping the extradition Moscow is demanding with renewed fervour.

His chances of toppling the massively powerful – and popular – Putin do not look good. And his schemes are, we should remember, just as damaging to democracy as his rival’s remorseless emasculation of his opponents.

But it has come to something when a coup is seen as the only way of removing Putin’s grip on power.

As Mr Kasparov and his friends know only too well, it is a bad time to be a dissident in Russia.
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/04/14/dl1402.xml

Comment posted.

Royal Dutch Shell made the mistake of treating the Russians as fools by doubling the Sakhalin2 project costs to $20 billion, thereby putting back the date by years when the Russians would benefit from a production sharing agreement.

Shell announced the huge increase days after agreeing a partnership deal with Gazprom (the Russian government controlled energy giant) on Sakhalin and another project, without disclosing the $10 billion cost escalation. That deception gave Putin the excuse to humiliate Shell by using the Russian Environmental Agency to threaten legal proceedings accusing Shell of causing $30 billion worth of pollution and environmental damage during construction of a Sakhalin pipeline.
Even the Russians were surprised at the speed of Shell’s surrender in the face of such tactics.

Gazprom/Putin has now taken control of the project without as yet paying a penny. Their first move was to fire Shell’s auditors and replace them with a Russian firm appointed by the Russian government. The debacle will cost Shell hundreds of billions of dollars in lost reserves.

I had a key role in the events as publicly acknowledged by Oleg Mitvol, the so-called “Kremlin attack dog”.

Shell CEO Jeroen van Veer was exposed as being a clueless novice completely out of his depth after taking over at the helm of Shell as a result of the reserves scandal.

Posted by John Donovan, co-owner of the website www.royaldutchshellplc.com

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

0 Comments on “Daily Telegraph: Opposing Putin”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: