September 19th, 2011

“Work out an exit strategy”: Khodorkovsky warns foreign investors about doing business in Russia

Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2001

Foreign businesses looking to set up shop in Russia should “work out an exit strategy in the event that the business turns out to be successful and attractive to raiders,” jailed former head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky said this month in response to questions from Reuters. 

Once concerns become profitable, he said, state institutions are then used “for the enrichment of private individuals” and not to help average citizens. “It is obvious that the risk-benefit ratio [for businesses looking to enter the Russian market] is now being assessed as unfavourable” as “the siloviki bureaucracy continues,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Khodorkovsky said that while he had few regrets about the way in which he built his company through the 1990s, he believes he should have done more to develop civic institutions. “Had I the experience I have now, I would have put in more effort towards building a civil society and would not have spent all my time on reviving industry.” An interesting comment, as many Kremlin observers would argue that his efforts to do just that — build a civil society — were what led to his arrest.

To read more from the interview, visit

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