PARIS — Without a doubt Russian President Putin wants to liquidate Vladimir Milov.
Milov has been a fugitive from Russia since 2002. Today, he is unmistakably the most feared desperate man on Putin’s Most Wanted Fugitive list. However, the gently polite graduate of Moscow State Mining University is neither a defense lawyer nor a scholar outcast for railing against war in Ukraine. The 50-year-old former Deputy Minister of Energy is Putin’s worst nightmare, precisely because he speaks in tongues.
Milov’s language is built on BTU, BOP, and FPSO, strange-sounding and complicated acronyms used in the oil and gas industry, the business that profits from the bloodshed of Putin’s Ukrainians. .
In an interview with The Daily Beast from Paris, Milov said that the crux of Putin’s control of about 10 energy companies responsible for overseeing Russia’s oil and natural gas could be easily translated into English, Russian or Klingon.
“Putin can no longer sell Russian energy for profit,” Milov said, sitting in a conference room overlooking the Seine. “Russia is losing money from the discount deals he’s made with countries like India and Turkey.”
Perhaps the only motivation is harder to digest Putin’s Big Energy Problem is to understand the cruel reality of being Vladimir Milov.
Milov’s troubles began in 2002, when the Kremlin asked him to submit a plan to restructure oil giant Gazprom. At the same time, Putin was finalizing his 2003 plan to usurp the main competitor of the state-owned company Yukos, sending its founder, dissident Michael Khordorkovsky to exile, going to count birch trees in Siberia for 10 years. for fraud, tax evasion and other economic crimes.
“Putin condemns my plan as dangerous to Russia’s national security,” Milov said. “Meetings with Putin are always strange,” he added. “I kept asking myself, ‘How did this little gray rat get to be the president of Russia?'”
That is the question Putin answered by imprisoning Milov’s friends and fellow reformers, Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza, both assassination survivors. One of Milov’s other anti-Putin activist friends, physicist and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead in 2015, two days before he was scheduled to join a protest against the uprising. Putin’s war in eastern Ukraine and the looming financial crisis.
According to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, since the end of February, Putin has arrested about 18,000 dissidents at a rate of about 88.8 per day. Milov says that rounding up the enemy is one of the few things Putin is really good at, and as far as he is concerned, changing the KGB’s name to the FSB is a crude attempt to raise the profile of the police. secret.
“So far, the KGB has visited the homes of about 60,000 people, threatening them with jail if they oppose Putin, war or anything else,” Milov said. “The knock on the door echoed through the community. The atmosphere of fear is very strong.”
Milov eventually made it past the relative safety of Lithuania, where he collected the numbers, worked with dissident groups, and deciphered what he said were unsavory statistics. is designed to make the West believe that Russia is an energy giant.
“You have to understand, the KGB is always that,” is how Milov describes his life on the lam from a frenzied superpower whose diabolical leader this week has deployed 300,000 more troops and once again threatened to launch nuclear weapons against Western capitals.
“I do not and cannot afford to ask myself if I am afraid.“
Milov is in the midst of two centuries of lame sanctions against some 6,000 Putin oligarchs, of which only 46 to 200 have been effectively shut down, according to the Anti-Corruption Foundation.
“Sanctions don’t work as quickly as the West thinks,” Milov said, pouring sugar into a warm cup of coffee that was sourced problematically from what appeared to be a sealed package. “However, Russia’s industrial output has fallen by 60 to 80 percent, and in terms of high technology, Putin has returned to the Stone Age.”
Milov leisurely stirred the white crystals without blinking. “Russia will not collapse,” he added. “It will decline under Putin until the country completely separates from the modern era.” His long fingers tapped the paper cup. He took a sip.
“The Russian people are scared,” Milov said after safely knocking down his coffee. “I do not and cannot afford to ask myself if I am afraid,” he added. “A great awakening will come when the Russian people learn what he did in Ukraine. They will be embarrassed, and they will put Putin on trial for war crimes.”
While Putin’s ability to defend his case before an international jury seems far-fetched, Milov insists the math adds up to Putin’s much shorter free time roaming the Kremlin than would otherwise be expected. The public wants the West to believe.
“More than 4.5 million Russians work only part-time and they don’t get paid enough,” Milov said, shooting out the numbers with the fury of the Gatling gun. “That’s 13% of the workforce that hasn’t seen any wage growth in 20 years. The emigration of Western oil companies has reduced energy production by at least 25%, and Putin is tossing tens of millions of dollars of our natural gas supply on TV to show the West that he He doesn’t care”.
Stuffing an olive in his empty cup, he said, Milov thinks sanctions will have a profound long-term effect, “no matter how many heads Putin has battered with patriotic propaganda.” .
“Putin thinks he is completely dominant in terms of energy and can outlast the West,” added Milov. “Tell me, which oil and gas trader would be willing to sign a futures contract with him? Russia is no longer a major energy supplier. Any company that fails to pay its bills goes bankrupt.”
Milov dismissed Putin’s ludicrous plan to build a gas pipeline from Siberia to China. “That would cost $200 billion that Putin doesn’t have,” explained Milov. “He doesn’t realize that China has substantial domestic supplies and long-term contracts with foreign suppliers. Don’t buy Putin is currently selling energy to China, because he is selling that energy to them at a 30% discount and mostly domestically without taxes. Russia made no money from that deal. It is losing money and a lot. “
Another red herring is Putin’s gambit for transporting crude oil to India and Asia. “All at a discount,” Milov said. “There is no profit. It takes more than a month for an oil tanker to reach India, and it is not a factor causing traffic congestion, which adds to the cost of Russia by 10 USD / barrel / barrel. No substantial long-term gains in Asia.”
Milov’s biggest concern is Israel and the deteriorating economy in currency-poor Turkey. “Both governments are wooing Putin with deals, especially in digital components and hardware, but they are raising prices 300% above free market costs.”
For now, Milov is keeping a brave face, mainly by looking at his numbers. He advised Western leaders to do the same. It’s a game worth the wait, albeit a deadly one.
However, Milov believes that Putin’s behavior has changed significantly. “He’s currently running around the world, a carpet salesman begging for help,” he said. “It may seem like a small detail, but it is an important psychological detail. Putin needs help, and he doesn’t get much.”