“I will work to make sure the regime in Russia changes. The question is: am I prepared to go all the way? Yes, I am prepared to go all the way.” – Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky has experienced first hand the wrath of Vladimir Putin. Once an oil tycoon and the richest man in Russia, Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint before parliamentary elections in 2003, stripped of his oil wealth and jailed on politically motivated charges of fraud and tax evasion after funding opposition parties.
Khodorkovsky spent nearly ten years in prison. In order to secure his freedom and get permission to see his terminally ill mother he wrote Putin a handwritten letter, making three promises: he would leave Russia to spend time with his family; he would stay away from politics; and he would not attempt to win back his shares in Yukos – his dismantled oil company – or get involved in any court cases.
But after the death of his mother in 2013 Khodorkovsky began to publicly criticise Putin once more and, while in exile, started calling for pro-democracy reforms in Russia. He is now one of Putin’s most influential critics.
In September 2022 Khodorkovsky came to Intelligence Squared to share his unparalleled insight into the inner workings of Putin’s regime and how the Russian president wields power at home and abroad. Drawing from his new book The Russia Conundrum Khodorkovsky revealed previously unknown information about his own life to show how Russia really works and how the West can truly begin to blunt the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions.