Defying Putin on Yukos


Vladimir Putin has embarked on a program to exert greater control in Russia by changing the rules of governance, cracking down on free speech, and confiscating the assets of pro—democracy reformers. Coupledwith these moves is an increasingly aggressive international posture: Putin is  forging closer ties with China, opposing our interests in international bodies, and supplying nuclear technology to Iran.

Putin appears to be confident that he is breaking the back of dissidents at home by emasculating the influence of rivals by stealing their assets. One of the more publicized aspects of the latter approach was his takeover of Yukos, the large Russian oil company, and the arrest of its chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovski. A variety of other reformers and businessmen have been charged (if such a term has any meaning in Putin's Russia). Some of these figures have Jewish heritage and  have fled to Israel. 
Therefore, it is impressive that George Bush is again expressing his support for democracy by hosting in the White House two Russians who were associated with Yukos, and who are wanted by Moscow: Mikhail Brudno and Vladimir Dubov, who were lucky enough to escape the grasp of the  Russia leader and make it to the somewhat safer shores of  Israel.

Two Republican Congressman — Tom DeLay and Chris Cox — played important roles in arranging this significant visit, yet another visible and courageous sign that George Bush does not cotton to repression overseas. One can speculate the Foggy Bottom did not get a veto over this invitation.

Ed Lasky  2 3 05