Jailed oligarch says tax rich Russians: ‘the Khodorkovsky rule’


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Tuesday wasn’t the deadline for filing income tax returns in Russia, but raising rates for the rich was nonetheless on one oligarch’s mind.

From his prison cell in remote northwest Russia, jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky proposed his own version of the ‘Buffett rule,’ the brainchild of Berkshire Hathaway chief executive and billionaire Warren Buffett to ensure that households with more than $1 million in income each year pay at least as high a rate as middle-class Americans.


Khodorkovsky, who has been penning his thoughts on life on the outside in recent years in the tradition of exiled writers and political activists banished before him, called for the Russian government to tap as much as 40% of inheritances worth more than $30 million to better fund services for the masses.

In his latest lecture carried by Novaya Gazeta on Tuesday, the former head of the now-defunct Yukos oil empire said Russia’s tax system is cumbersome, overstaffed and stifling to entrepreneurism.

‘The tax policy looks as if its authors have set themselves the task of creating the best environment for corrupt government executives and putting pressure on businesses by manipulating the ambiguity of the tax code,’ said Khodorkovsky, a staunch opponent of once- and future-President Vladimir Putin.

The accusations that have kept him behind bars for eight years are widely seen as politically motivated; among his purported crimes was tax evasion.


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-- Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles