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83 Foreign Aff. 33 (2004)
Putin and the Oligarchs

handle is hein.journals/fora83 and id is 939 raw text is: Putin and the Oligarchs
Marshall I. Goldman
IN MID - SEPTEMBER, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced
plans for a radical overhaul of his country's political system, with
the goal of centralizing power in the Kremlin. Acting in the wake
of the hostage crisis in Beslan, during which Chechen separatists
killed hundreds of children, Putin claimed that his power grab was
necessary to help Russia win its own war on terrorism. Whatever
his motivations, the move represents a major step backward for
Russian democracy.
Putin's recent actions may be the most drastic of his tenure so
far, but they were hardly the first signs of his willingness to deploy
the power of the Russian state for his own purposes. A year earlier,
he had Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of the oil group Yukos and
one of the world's richest men, arrested and thrown in jail on
charges of fraud and tax evasion-a move widely interpreted as a
declaration of war against the so-called oligarchs, who have
amassed phenomenal wealth and power since the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991. A key question now is whether Khodor-
kovsky's arrest is the forerunner of what will happen to many of his
business colleagues.
The Khodorkovsky affair has been a shock for those who had
come to believe in the new Russia. During the previous dozen
years, Russians had rejected the Communist Party and the Soviet
MARSHALL I. GOLDMAN is Kathryn W. Davis Professor of Russian
Economics, Emeritus, at Wellesley College, Associate Director of the
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University,
and the author of The Piratization ofRussia: Russian Reform Goes Awry.


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