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Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Михаил Борисович Ходорковский) was born on June 26, 1963, in Moscow to chemical engineer parents.

Education: Chemical engineering, Mendeleyev Institute of Chemical Technologies, 1986. Plekhanov Institute, 1988. Khodorkovsky was an active member of the Komsomol, and the connections he made there proved instrumental to his future success.

1987: Founded the Youth Center for Scientific and Technical Development, which imported computers and other products

1989: Founded Menatep, one of Russia's first commercial banks

1995: Formed Rosprom, Menatep's industrial holding company. By April 1996, Rosprom managed 30 companies in sectors from food to chemicals to paper with a total of 140,000 employees.

1997: Oil giant Yukos' shareholders agreed to turn over control to Rosprom, formalizing a takeover begun by the bank in a controversial 1995 government loans-for-shares scheme. Khodorkovsky left the Menatep Bank chairmanship in April 1997 to head Rosprom.

1997-2004: Chairman and CEO of Yukos

1998: During the financial crisis, Menatep defaulted on foreign loans and lost control of a 30 percent stake in Yukos. The Aug. 17 financial crisis left the bank insolvent. (Its license was revoked by the Central Bank in 1999.) Khodorkovsky increasingly distanced himself from Menatep. Meanwhile, he struggled to repay Yukos' $1.25 billion debt at a time of historically low oil prices and was accused by minority shareholders of breaching their rights.

1999: In an early forays into politics, Khodorkovsky announced that he would support Grigory Yavlinsky's liberal Yabloko party in December elections to the State Duma (story)

2001: Established the Open Russia foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting freedom and democracy

Oct. 25, 2003: Arrested at gunpoint in Novosibirsk for tax evasion, embezzlement and fraud. On May 16, 2005, Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in prison. (The sentence was reduced to eight years.) (story) At the time of his arrest, Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man; Forbes estimated his fortune at $8 billion in 2002.

Their supporters claim that both cases were fabricated on orders by President Vladimir Putin as revenge for Khodorkovsky’s political and commercial ambitions. Putin allegedly made a tacit agreement with the oligarchs soon after he was elected in 2000 that he would not touch the huge wealth they had gained in the 1990s if they would stay away from politics and pay taxes.

2007: Yukos declared bankruptcy

February 2009: New embezzlement and grand theft charges were filed against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev (story). On Dec. 30, 2010, the pair were found guilty of theft and money laundering and sentenced to 14 years in prison, including their current sentences (term was reduced to 13 years on May 24, 2011).

Prosecutors have hinted that a third trial might be opened, which could keep Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in prison beyond 2016.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has married twice and has four children.

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