This two-part Russian documentary is pretty tabloid & makes no attempt at objectivity. It’s also not easy to follow since a single female translator is used for both sides of every conversation and for the voice over, so you need to concentrate in order to follow what’s going on. But with these caveats in mind it’s worth persevering for its take on the ruthless Western exploitation and infiltration of Russian oil assets in the 1990s, an outrageous abuse that doesn’t get a lot of coverage. What at a first glance may appear as the slightly hysterical claims made in the documentary are, in fact, pretty much correct.
More on the Product Sharing Agreement (PSA) that Russia signed with “foreign nations” in the immediate post-Soviet era, for the extraction and sale of its oil and gas reserves, can be found in The Sakhalin II PSA –a Production ‘Non-Sharing’ Agreement, a PDF document from 2004 by Dr Ian Rutledge. It largely confirms what is alleged in the program – that Russia was cheated of vast amounts of potential income. The Russian government under Putin has, famously, re-nationlised large sections of the gas and oil industry.
The other claims in the program — for example the harassment by Mikhail Khodorkovsky of the woman who alleges her apartment was ransacked by his “thugs” — we haven’t looked into and don’t vouch for in any way.