Mikhail Khodorkovsky: The Russian Businessman is Now Exiled in London

As a nine-part documentary series living up to its title in nearly every way conceivable, Netflix’s ‘Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War’ can honestly only be described as utterly gripping. That’s because it incorporates not just archival footage but also exclusive interviews with over 100 significant individuals to really shine a light upon the way our wartime past affects our present. Amongst those to thus feature in this original is actually exiled Russian tycoon and oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him, here’s what we know.

What Happened to Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

Although Mikhail was born on June 26, 1963, to moderately well-off engineers Marina and Boris Khodorkovsky in suburban Moscow, his upbringing was quite interesting for reasons more than one. The truth is his parents were opponents of communism since they’d experienced anti-semitism as well as the crimes of leader Joseph Stalling plus his successors, yet they never told their son. According to a local journalist, they feared ending up making their son’s life miserable with doublethink or rivalries, which is why they chose not to speak their mind for the longest time.

Instead, the Khodorkovskys “chose the second path, with results that far exceeded their expectations, resulting in Mikhail became a fervent Communist and Soviet patriot, a member of a species that had seemed all but extinct.” Then came his decision to study at D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia, from where he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 1986. That’s the same year he stepped into the workforce too by landing a job at Komsomol with hopes to reportedly enter into politics before suddenly decising to go down the lucrative entrepreneurship route.

Mikhail initially covered his businesses under the name of Komsomol, where he dabbled in the reported import of personal computers and trading counterfeit alcohol, just to then expand his wings into the fields of finance and economy. After all, he’d quickly realized there was a lot of money to be made in these categories, pushing him to establish a bank by the name of Menatep, become an advisor for politician Boris Yeltsin, acquired the oil company Yukos, and dip his toes into philanthropic activities too. Though little did he know his efforts as well as ambition would soon end up turning his world upside down.

It was in 2003 that Mikhail announced the merger of his company Yukos with Sibneft in the hopes of rivaling oil reserves in the Western hemisphere, pushing him to become the richest man in Russia. In fact, according to reports, he was on his way to becoming the richest man in the world, with Forbes soon placing him 16th on its list of the world’s wealthiest people with a net worth of $16 billion, just for Vladamir Putin to reportedly feel a sense of rivalry. Therefore, on the morning of October 25, 2003, he was arrested for fraud, tax evasion, and other economic crimes.

According to reports, Mikhail’s trial was a “travesty” and “a Kafka-esque procedure” because the government spent months just “on an incoherent account of alleged violations that were criminalized after they were committed, or that were in fact legal activities.” Nevertheless, on May 30, 2005, he was still sentenced to nine years in a medium-security prison upon being found guilty, from where he continued running a blog, spreading the word about the government’s oppressive actions, and much more. However, upon appeal, his sentence was reduced, and he was told he could be released in May 2014, only for the Presidential Decree to officially pardon him in December 2013.

Where is Mikhail Khodorkovsky Now?

It was in 2015 that Mikhail Khodorkovsky relocated to London, England, for good with his loved ones, unaware a Russian court would soon issue an international arrest warrant against him. As per reports, the Investigative Committee of Russia had charged with ordering the murder of Nefteyugansk mayor Vladimir Petukhov, who’d been slain inside his home in June 1998. This prompted him to seek political asylum from the UK, which he was granted, and not long after this, Ireland-based assets worth $100 million belonging to him were released back to him without any issues of any sort. The accusations against him were later deemed to be a sham.

Since then, from what we can tell, Mikhail has continued serving as an opposition activist and even runs an organization by the name of Open Russia to promote several reforms to Russian civil society. This ‘My Fellow Prisoners’ author essentially hopes his work can bring about free and fair elections, political education, journalists and activists’ protection, endorsing the rule of law, as well as media independence in his homeland, leading many to refer to him as “the Kremlin’s leading critic-in-exile.” In fact, recently, he said Russia is a “fully-fledged totalitarian dictatorship” and that he wants to “fight for a Russia governed by the rule of law and political pluralism.”

Read More: Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors: Where Are They Now?