Exclusive Interview from Prison
17 November, 2011
Exclusive Interview from Prison

How Khodorkovski made 8 billions, old relations between Ivanishvili and Malkin

Recently we received a phone call from businessman Merab Ratishvili, currently an inmate of Rustavi #6 prison. Once he was the President of National Golf Association of Georgia. Moreover, in the past he used to be a deputy of Boris Berezovski, CIS executive secretary and then the president of international organization of CIS economic cooperation. At one point he knew key players in the Russian business very well. Among them were

Khodorkovski, Malkin, and others, including Bidzina Ivanishvili. He was in a haste to tell us everything because the phone connection used to terminate every five minutes.


A: I and Khodorkovski are peers. We used to work together in the City Committee of Moscow Komsomol. According to the order of Georgian Government I was sending oil to Georgia. The war was in full swing at the time. Khodorkovski stopped the fuel I sent to Georgia. He demanded to sell it to him. I was using his bank (Menatep) for the operations. He blackmailed me: either sell or say good bye to it. I refused, saying that the oil was needed for my country. Then he called Fuel and Energy Minister Shakhranik, his deputy Fomin and they cancelled my quotas. They did not allow the ship enter the port for 45 days because the TransNefts did not reimburse me the cost. They stopped all my operation there. I lost 4 million dollars.

Khodorkovski did everything to have me lose the oil. We had common friends, used to know each other since the age of 22. Nevertheless, he and Platon Lebedev, who is in prison together with him, did all these to me. Well, I acknowledge that they are political prisoners. I just want to tell you about what they have done years ago. They were fighting against me. I managed to have Khodorkovski fined. In response, he had the law enforcers threaten me to stop or else they would get the drop on my family. So, I had to send my family out of the country in September, 1993.

Q: Can you tell us something about the infamous auction of deposits and possible links to it of Khodorkovski and Bidzina Ivanishvili?

A: The auction of deposits was an activity area of the Round Table of Russian Businessmen, where I was a member of both presidium and council. Ivanishvili did take part in it. Malkin was there instead of him. They gave the credit of 100 million to Khodorkovski. He invested it into the auction. When the packages were opened, they found that Khodorkovski managed to grab the property worth of 2 billions by means of only 100 million. Those 2 billions must have been as much as 4 billions at that time. It happened in December, 1995. A week later we discussed the issue at the council of the Round Table. Khodorkovski did not come. But all top figures were present. Malkin too was there instead of Ivanishvili because Malkin was the president of his bank, while Ivanishvili was the vice-president. I asked the executive secretary not to allow anybody inside with bodyguards and everybody leave weapons at the entrance. They took a due note of my suggestion because situation was extremely explosive. People of the Khodorkovski’s Menatep Bank could have easily been ripped apart. Khodorkovski started with Menatep and finished with Yukos. He also grabbed the money of the Communist Party.

Q: How much?

A: Billions. At that time, the Communist Party had more money than the country’s budget. If not me, Khodorkovski’s deputy would have been beaten up at the council meeting. Khodorkovski cheated the people. That way he amassed 8 billion.

Q: What do you know about Bidzina Ivanishvili’s activities in Russia?

A: I know Bidzina since 1996. He was a smart, gifted and very orderly guy. The people who followed his mentoring are multi-millionaires already. If anybody has legal business in the CIS, it’s Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Q: But he is accused of having ties with Malkin. What do you make of it?

A: I do not know in what problems Malkin has entangled himself. I am inclined to think that he is being set up by his competitors. That’s all. I doubt he committed anything even resembling a crime. I cannot believe that he was involved in arms trade.

Q: The Authorities call Bidzina Ivanishvili the Russia’s guy.

A: Absolute nonsense. It’s silly when they say that Ivanishvili is not a politician. He has potential. We have not had a man of his abilities so far. I fear that among the people visiting Bidzina, there could be agents who next day report to the MIA. I mean the people who want to hitch their decrepit carriages to Ivanishvili’s train.

Q: They say that Ivanishvili could not have made his fortune in Russia without Putin…

A: That’s why he left Russia. His partners are taking care of his business. His help to the Authorities is so immense that even their parents could not have done it. Well, these guys are blind. They can’t see anybody’s good deeds.

Q: Some people even say that Bidzina Ivanishvili is in danger.

A: Danger is always there. After our conversation, I too will be in danger but I can’t help talking with you. What can I do here, inside the four walls? I am sure Mr. Ivanishvili calculated everything in advance and knows that these guys will do any indecency. I want him to stand firm and keep his team clear of traitors as much as possible. Once we did talk about the fate of our country but we have talked last to each other 7-8 years ago. I was glad that he entered politics. On the other hand, I became anxious about who is going to stand beside him. So far, those who seem to be active and visible, are capable of stabbing his back.

Q: Who do you mean?

A: I cannot name them. He himself knows it very well. He must have studied all of  them already. He will not do anything without planning.

Q: By the way, the council meeting held on the auction of deposits was attended by Kakha Bendukidze, the former Georgian Minister of Economy.

A: If he is a decent man, Bendukidze has to tell the Authorities that Bidzina is the purest man in business.

Q: Did he and Bidzina Ivanishvili ever confront each other?

A: No, Ivanishvili would never appear in person. Malkin was always in the forefront.

Q: Why that?

A: Bidzina knew that a Georgian would not be allowed to succeed in Russia. It was Bidzina who founded the bank, who formed its kitchen and human resources. Malkin was admitting it. If I were out of prison I would recall many other things. But it’s enough for now.

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