The Yukos affair is often read as a battle of the confrontation between Putin and the oligarchs. This false binary opposition our perspective on the reconstructions in Russia. A group decapitated, lost markets and a feared central power: these are the most tangible results of the Yukos affair. Since more than a year, the future of the largest Russian oil producer drawn to fuel the perplexity about the intentions of the Kremlin in terms of economic development and internal organization, with significant consequences on world oil prices. Since more than a year, Yukos determines much of the judgments on the Russia of Vladimir Putin, with lingering questions about his project.
For all ideological than practical reasons, these judgments are often the impasse on a double Singularity: the Russia and Yukos. Unlike the other emerging countries, has Russia to an economic elite competent and ambitious but is still not managed to create groups of world size built on an industrial challenge. She has excelled in the control of the energy annuity or reestablishment of industrial groups to illustrate in the implementation of technological innovations. In this landscape, Yukos was iconic but not characteristic. Converted to the "corporate governance", the Group of Mikhail Khodorkovsky sought to symbolize the modernization of the Russian economy through international management of high-level and intense communication. In exposing, Mikhail Khodorkovsky used to believe, particularly abroad, that this movement of modernisation was irreversible. However, the Russia keeps a high specificity. Because of its international status, its size, its energy potential and its level of education, is not one emerging country like others. Member of the G8 and non-member of the WTO, it pursues a policy of integration into the world economy which is no pre-established models, leaving thus a large part of uncertainty.
From the outside, it is difficult to understand games of influence and power relations, because, to paraphrase the pattern of BP, lord Browne, the Russia is led by men, not by laws. Informal linkages between groups and individuals are the primary key of the Yukos affair. After Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Goussinski, Mikhail Khodorkovsky would be the third collateral victim of the offensive launched by Putin against the oligarchs. This binary Putin against the oligarchs opposition is part of our poor understanding of the reality in Russia. Cleverly maintained by presidential communication, it is very simplistic.
First, the oligarchs are anything but a homogeneous group. Their relations are characterized mainly by internal rivalries and a reversal of alliances. Each is defined by the nature of the specific links it has forged or not with the Kremlin. In this regard, the Yukos case double a Sibneft case, both Roman Abramovich group, with which a merger was expected, now a position as discrete as Central. Second, the Kremlin has understood that the best way to control the oligarchs was by the selective use of the law (i.e. the possibility to choose who will be prosecuted and will not) as in the use of groups relay. In addition to the plan, Gazprom and Transneft hard nuclei, it is now Surgutneftgaz, headed by Vladimir Bogdanov, and Rosneft, the head of which has been named Igor Setchine, one of the closest collaborators of Putin. One of the keys to the dismemberment of Yukos is the relationship between these groups.
Finally, the fall of the House Khodorkovsky does not mean the end of the oligarchs. Even if some Decliners may fall, industrial groups will continue to exercise strong influence of probably more diffuse manner. The offensive against the oligarchs, which Yukos would be a step, faces a fundamental data: 23 groups control 35 of the Russian industry and more than 1.4 million jobs. In other words, the deep structure of the Russian economy remains unchanged.
Oppose Putin oligarch to evade the substantive debate on the diversification of the Russian economy. As long as it will be organized exclusively for the control of the energy annuity, concentrations of power to strengthen and restructure the tensions between rival groups. For the time being, the Kremlin and some oligarchs have decide together a mode of development, without dispelling illusions.