Buried deep in this LA Times article, among all the hand-wringing about how Putin’s crackdown makes things difficult for US investors, are some solid reasons why Khodorkovsky was arrested for tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement.

… Khodorkovsky is being reined in for trying to form a power bloc in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, by funding such a range of political parties that he might have challenged Putin’s control over the legislative body in December parliamentary elections. Putin reportedly saw it as buying votes, and a breach of the deal he made with tycoons after his election in 2000 for them to stay out of politics.

<A spokesperson said> Russia’s resource riches belong to the people, and a company’s license to explore “doesn’t give [it] the right to privatize our profits.”

The siloviki see Russia’s huge oil reserves as the key to reasserting the nation’s global dominance, giving it leverage at a time when the U.S. wants to diversify its sources of oil. But to exert leverage, the state must have direct or indirect control over resources.

I find it bizarre this article, and many others, focuses almost entirely on how the arrest makes it hard for US investors. And who might those “investors” be? Hold on for a shocker ….

Many believe that the siloviki were not about to watch Khodorkovsky sell 40% of his company — the country’s biggest oil giant — to U.S. oil company ExxonMobil, as was planned, and see him pocket the cash.

Aha. So ExxonMobil wanted to buy 40% of the company and Putin just froze the stock and blocked it. Now we’re getting somewhere.

There is a monumental power struggle going on inside Russia now. One would wish our media would focus on the particulars of the struggle, rather than on how it hampers US oil companies trying to buy into Russia oil companies — which is a secondary issue at best.

They also should explore why two thirds of Muscovites support Putin’s actions.

CNN says:

Nearly two-thirds of Moscovites still support Putin despite a controversial attack on the oligarchs

“Controversial”? With two-thirds support, it’s not even slightly controversial to them.