The Slatest

A Very Matter-of-Fact Interview About the Russian Tradition of Arresting Billionaires and Taking Their Stuff

Yevtushenkov in 2007.

Thomas Peter/Reuters

Vladimir Yevtushenkov is a hugely wealthy Russian business figure whose Sistema group controls the oil company Bashneft and the mobile phone company MTS. He was put under house arrest this week on charges of money laundering, though there has been some public pushback to his detention and he may or may not have been freed today with a promise not to leave the country. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has an explanatory interview about the arrest with another wealthy Russian, the exiled Yevgeny Chichvarkin. Chichvarkin’s straightforward take on the situation—“Crimea was up for grabs; they took it. Bashneft is up for grabs; they will take it, too”—would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that the lawlessly plutocratic leader being described (Vladimir Putin) controls one of the most powerful armies in the world. More:

RFE/RL: What’s going to happen to Yevtushenkov now? What are his options?

Chichvarkin: He will give up Bashneft, he will spend two or three years being questioned, and give tons of money to the chekists [officials close to Russia’s state-security organs] to obtain the closure of his criminal case. That’s the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, they will also seize his telecom assets and create a Russian united telecommunication corporation or something in that vein.

Read the rest here. Also recommended: this Guardian piece on Chichvarkin’s wine store in London, which is named “Hedonism.” (The piece’s author? “Amelia Gentleman.” England.)