We the People recently launched a petition asking the White House to look into alleged political bribery involving exiled Russian businessman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The petition claims he donated large amounts of money to U.S. Congress to condemn the “politically-motivated arrest, detention, and sentencing of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.”
The petition will receive a response from the White House. The petition claims that as a result of the bill, relations between Russia and the United States experienced negative repercussions. After all, Khodorkovsky and Russian President Vladimir Putin share a relationship riddled with friction.
Khodorkovsky spoke out against Putin at a televised meeting in 2003 about corruption. Shortly thereafter he was imprisoned. Many speculate that Putin saw to it that Khodorkovsky was locked away because of his statements. Whatever the reason, Putin then released Khodorkovsky on pardon in December of 2013.
Due to this difficult relationship between the two, America’s legislative siding with Khodorkovsky only helped to further drive a wedge between Russia and America. This is in light of the fact that – just like Putin and Khodorkovsky – Russia and America have a long history also riddled with friction, from the Cold War to present day.
APCO Worldwide’s Influence
In an attempt to attack the passing of the resolution, the authors of the petition pointed out that Mikhail Khodorkovsky allegedly sponsored the co-sponsors himself. The claims are that Khodorkovsky paid $110,000 to APCO Worldwide, in hopes of influencing the resolution.
What’s the connection? Public relations firm APCO Worldwide was founded and led by Margery Kraus, a long-time supporter of Khodorkovsky. She is also a trustee of the Institute of Modern Russia, which is chaired by Pavel, Khodorkovsky’s son. But more importantly, APCO Worldwide has strong ties to Obama and his administration.
The politicians who sponsored the resolution included President Barack Obama, who was a Senator at the time, in 2005; and Vice President Joe Biden. Opposition, John McCain, also signed the resolution.
This was not Khodorkovsky’s first attempt at this – Reports show that Khodorkovsky also heavily backed the Magnitsky Act. The main purpose of this bipartisan bill was to punish those responsible for Sergey Magnitsky’s death – a lawyer who died, while imprisoned in Moscow in 2009.
This led to a ban on select Russian citizens involved in Magnitsky’s from entering America. Russia then responded by banning some American citizens from going to Moscow on the grounds of human rights.
The White House has not released a statement or addressed the petition yet – but the White House may likely have no choice by July 14, 2016.