Director: Alex Gibney
Writer: Alex Gibney
Stars: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Putin, Leonid Nevzlin, Boris Berezovsky, Igor Malashenko
Countries: United Kingdom, United States
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney delivers one of his strongest explorations of global politics in considering the strange case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky rocketed to prosperity and prominence in the 1990s, served a decade in prison, and became an unlikely leader of the anti-Putin movement. In tracking Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s story, Alex Gibney creates a compelling portrait of post-Soviet Russia, a nation caught between radically divergent political models – and where fortunes can transform overnight. The collapse of the USSR ushered in an era of chaos and opportunity. With laws lagging behind socioeconomic change, Russia fomented a kind of gangster capitalism. Mikhail Khodorkovsky took advantage of the privatization of state assets, created Russia’s first commercial bank, and built Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company. His success in business was accompanied by a level of political influence that would prove precarious. In 2003, just months after publicly criticizing corruption within Vladimir Putin’s government, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested for fraud, and Yukos’ shares were frozen and conveyed to the Russian state. He was found guilty, and sentenced to nine years’ incarceration. Then, in 2010, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was hit with new charges of embezzlement and money laundering: he was essentially accused by the state of stealing his own oil, in what many recognized as a show trial.