"With his talent for tax-dodging he would have been behind bars in America long ago"
The former president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, urged Russia's oligarchs to bring back to Russia the huge amount of money they have siphoned abroad. "Some think $1 trillion has been hidden away by Russian businessmen. If they don't return that, our courts are likely to decide they acquired it illegally. Then they couldn't use that money anywhere. One day it will be used for the benefit of Russia", - said Mr. Gorbachev on May 5 in his interview to Sunday Times.
The British papers considered this statement as primarily aimed at the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, the billionaire oligarch in exile Roman Abramovich. Gorbachev "supports "risky" plans being drawn up by President Vladimir Putin to offer an amnesty to Abramovich and and his fellow oligarchs: if they bring their wealth back home, they can keep it", writes the UK Sunday Times.
The former Soviet leader expressed his opinion on the Khodorkovsky trial. "I fail to understand why some in the West make a hero of [Mikhail] Khordorkovsky. He is talented, I agree; he started his business when I was president and I have known him for some time. But with his talent for tax-dodging he would have been behind bars in America long ago."
Given the enormous popularity of Gorbachev in the West - the Times' interviewer calls him no less than "a hero who changed the world more than any living soul", a "giant who ended the Cold War and dismantled the evil empire" - his opinion can easily ruin the costly effort of Khordokovsky's PR machine to represent the Yukos trial as "politically-motivated" and thus "unfair" or even as "suppression of opposition".
Meanwhile the deputy of the public prosecutor, Vladimir Kolesnikov, said in the interview given on Sunday to NTV, that the Yukos case wasn't closed, and that new charges against Yukos's CEOs were yet to be brought. This time the charges won't involve just white collar crimes (tax evasion and fraud) but also racketeering, extortion and murder. "If not 100%, some of the company's top managers are stained with blood", said Kolesnikov. According to him, a co-owner of Yukos, Leonid Nevzlin, absconding now in Israel, will be charged with ordering the contract killings of rival businessmen. Leonid Nevzlin stands behind the media campaign in support of Khodorkovsky and his accomplices.