Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, after whom the Charity is named, is an exiled Russian businessman and a prominent dissident. He is a former Yukos’ CEO and shareholder, a founder of the Open Russia movement, a member of the Anti-War Committee of Russia and an Amnesty prisoner of conscience.

In 1997-2004, Khodorkovsky was Chairman and CEO of Yukos, Russia’s major oil and gas company, which became one of the most efficient and
profitable operations in the post-Soviet space under his management.

In 2001, Khodorkovsky set up the Open Russia Foundation with the aim of building and strengthening civil society in Russia. Having been one of the earliest supporters of democratic change, Khodorkovsky criticized endemic corruption at a televised meeting with President Putin in early 2003. Later that same year he was arrested, jailed on tax evasion charges and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. Yukos’ assets were subsequently seized by the Russian Government and transferred for a fraction of their value to state-owned oil companies. After serving ten years in prison, Khodorkovsky was finally released in December 2013.

In 2014, the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Russian Government had violated international law by taking Yukos from its shareholders for political purposes, described as a “full assault on Yukos and its beneficial owners in order to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its assets while, at the same time, removing Mr. Khodorkovsky from the political arena.”

As one of the prominent leaders of the Russian opposition and the founder of the Open Russia movement, Khodorkovsky advocates for an alternative vision for his country – a strong and just state based on a parliamentary republic model and committed to observing human rights, free and fair elections, and the rule of law. He has also been actively campaigning for building a strong civil society in Russia, including through promoting education.

Khodorkovsky is a vocal critic of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and a founding member of the Anti-War Committee of Russia.