Indeed, Putin really can put the state back in charge. But, as the Yukos case shows, he will succeed at a cost, and the cost already looks rather worse than a soaking. This re-assertion of state power depresses economic growth and puts Moscow at odds with the wider world in which the president wants his nation to take an honoured place.
On Sunday, December 19, the main production subsidiary of the Yukos oil company was sold by the Russian Federal Property Fund for $9.35 billion to Baikalﬁnansgrup. Nobody had ever heard of Baikalﬁnansgrup. Its address is at 126 Novotorzhskaya Street, in Tver. That address, it turned out, is shared by the London Bar, a liquor store, a food store, some mobile phone and jeans shops and one hundred and ﬁfty invisible shell companies. The barman at the London told Kommersant newspaper that he hadn’t noticed any customers with $9.35 billion lately.