Goldman Vs Gazpromia: Russian Sovereign Risk Downgraded By Goldman Sachs

Tyler Durden's picture

While the recent confrontation between Putin's Russia and Obama's America has been a masterclass in how to manage one's foreign interests (where one learns from Putin for those confused) in which Putin largely ignored every attempt at being jawboned by Obama, Kerry and their henchmen, what was left unspoken is that despite the superficial theatrics little would actually escalate since at the end of the day, Russia's place in a globalized system (not to mention its commodities) is far too important to be jeopardized for political talking points.

Furthermore, as is well-known, when it comes to key players in a global fungible monetary system, a far more important decision-maker than the US government is the FDIC-insured hedge fund that controls all central banks: Goldman Sachs. Which is why it is certainly notable that moments ago none other than Goldman effectively downgraded Russia's sovereign risk by announcing it is "shifting from constructive to neutral view on Russian sovereign risk." With the legacy rating agencies now largely moot and irrelevant, what the big banks say suddenly has so much more import. But when the biggest - and most connected - bank of them all, outright lobs a very loud shot across the Gazpromia Russian bow, even Putin listens.

From Goldman's Clemens Grafe

Shifting from constructive to neutral view on Russian sovereign risk

Bottom line:

Russian CDS spreads have tightened by more than those of peers in recent months, as Russia’s fundamentals remain strong and Russia, in our view, is less exposed to the slower pace of Fed asset purchases and higher global interest rates than many other EMs. However, two recent developments cause us to shift from a constructive to a neutral view on Russian credit in the near term. First, banking sector liquidity conditions have tightened significantly as the regulator has substantially stepped up bank oversight actions by withdrawing licences from 30 banks this year (1.2% of retail deposits in the system). While we currently find little evidence of systemic banking sector stress, we believe the risk of bank stress developing – and of potential sovereign exposure – resulting from the regulator’s actions has nonetheless risen. Second, Russian bank and sovereign exposure to both Belarus and Ukraine – credits that have deteriorated substantially in recent years – is both large (around 2% of GDP) and expected to rise further, especially in light of the recently-announced Russian financial assistance package for Ukraine. In our view, both of these factors could be credit-negative for the Russian sovereign.

Russian credit has outperformed peers recently

CDS spreads of Russia’s peers (as measured by credit rating) have tightened by 25bp since June, while Russia’s spread has tightened by 40bp. Russia has, thus, outperformed peers in the past six months. This was in line with the argument that we made in early September that Russian fundamentals are stronger than those of peers on many of the metrics that are important for credit ratings and, in particular, in external variables (current account) and balance sheet (debt stock) metrics, which have been of high market relevance in recent months in the context of the focus on the Fed’s slowing pace of balance sheet expansion. We continue to think that Russia’s conservative fiscal policy, low debt levels and the central bank’s emphasis on bringing down inflation will cause Russia’s risk premium to decline in the long run.

Rising banking sector concerns potentially discounted by current market pricing

However, as we argued in September and as ratings agencies have also emphasized in the past, it is institutional factors such as the structure of the banking sector and potential sovereign exposure to bank bailouts that are holding back ratings upgrades and that prevent Russian risk premia from decreasing below their post-crisis range. However, in recent months the CBR has stepped up its bank regulation efforts to address this issue. In particular, the CBR has withdrawn licences from 30 banks so far this year. While the number of banks concerned is only slightly higher than in previous years (22 in 2012 and 18 in 2011), the size of the banks affected has been larger, with total retail deposits in banks concerned in 2013 of RUB177bn (1.2% of system retail deposits), up from RUB23bn last year. Deposit losses from these banks have so far been covered entirely by the national deposit insurance fund (Agency for Deposit Insurance), which currently has around US$4-6bn of funds available for this purpose. In the long run, we think that strengthening bank supervision is clearly positive for Russian risk.

However, in the short term, these bank closures have introduced some concerns in the banking sector. Liquidity conditions have tightened, with Ruonia having risen to 6.5%, the upper limit of the CBR’s interest rate corridor, and overnight and 1-month Mosprime rates have risen toward 7% (150bp above the main policy rate). While unsecured interbank funding has not been that important as a source of funding for Russian banks, access to this market for many second- and third-tier banks has recently tightened further. Daily Ruonia volumes have fallen from around RUB100bn mid-year to RUB60bn at present. While some of the tightening in liquidity conditions is likely due to seasonal factors (in particular, strong cash demand in December in anticipation of the holiday season), we believe that this is not the driving force behind the recent dynamics.

While, in our view, there is little evidence of systemic stress in the banking sector at present and while we think that larger banks would be well-insulated from any shocks, we do think the CBR’s recent actions have increased the risk of stress developing in the banking sector. CBR actions have focused on banks below the top 50 and, so far, we have not seen any of the larger banks affected by recent CBR actions. In addition, given that the equity capital in the larger banks is likely significantly higher, it is less probable that there would be a concern with these banks and many of these would also likely be deemed systemically-important. Although we think the likelihood of system-wide banking sector stress has risen, we nonetheless think it remains low. Given the system's low dependence on interbank funding, a more serious deterioration would require large-scale flows of deposits, for which there is little evidence so far. At the same time, banks appear to have significant liquidity buffers, judging from loan-to-asset ratios for most smaller banks of 0.50-0.55.

That said, to quantify potential exposure, we present below a table of loans/deposits of Russian banks ranked by total bank asset size. What we find is that retail deposits in banks below the top 50 amount in aggregate to around US$100bn. While government deposit insurance is up to RUB700,000 per account and we do not have details on the distribution of retail deposit sizes, we would see US$100bn as an upper bound on potential sovereign exposure in the event of the emergence of real stress in the banking sector. This exposure, in our view, could justify a more cautious stance on Russian sovereign risk than we argued several months ago.

Balance sheet exposure to low-rated sovereigns also a potential concern

Russia has also increased its sovereign, corporate and banking-sector (largely state-owned) exposure to lower-rated CIS credits in recent years. This has happened as a result of financial assistance packages provided to neighbouring Belarus and Ukraine. While aggregated information on this exposure is very difficult to obtain, there are some data to suggest that this exposure is both large and increasing. In addition, credit risk has increased in both Ukraine and Belarus at the same time as Russia’s exposure to these credits has grown, as evidenced by their ratings downgrades and widening CDS spreads

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nope-1004's picture

Financial war continues.  Gazprom reaping the benefits of Osama's idiotic foreign policy.  Send in the banksters to fight for territory through downgrades, sanctions, and exporting inflation.  Soooo obvious the fianncial war going on, but good luck beating Putin, you corrupt idiots.


Rafferty's picture

As a source of market intelligence and advice The Squid is worth less than zero.  Totally corrupt and a player itself in the very areanas it advises on.

Why does nybody listen?

BaBaBouy's picture

@ SACKS ...

Smells Like They Want WOAR ...

DeadFred's picture

"How many divisions does Goldman Sachs have?"  Putin

TBT or not TBT's picture

Is that a vial of polonium in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Kaiser Sousa's picture



RetiredSilverBug's picture

You can not defeat Gazpromia. There is no risk of Gazpromia ever going down :)

TheLoveArtist's picture

BUT of course the TRIBE is bitter they couldn't finish their plunder of UKRAINE.  So now the backlash happens LOL.  Here was the GAMEPLAN for the tribe.  Under Kuchma just like under Yeltsin they plundered, most of Ukraines oligarchs are Jews just like they were in Russia.  By joining the EU they can cash out of their stolen assets by floating the companies on western stock markets.  Something similar Michael K who is in prison now did with Yukos.  They want to diversify their portfolios because they are worried that the govt under someone like Putin will claw back what they stole.  Now you know the rest of the tribe GS would of helped them in all the financial transactions and also made a pretty penny.  You bet GS and the World Jewish Congress are upset.  These Fiddlers are dancing on the roof because they want to cave it in.  F**K you GS and Blankfeinsteinweitzmanfeldburg

NotApplicable's picture

LOL, I'm supposed to believe that the recent Ukraine activity is bad for Russia?

Gee, I wonder what Goldman would've said if they'd joined the EU?

Seer's picture

I think this is more Goldman grading themselves as neutral than Russia.

Cyprus-> Russia

Syria-> Russia

Ukraine-> Russia

There's reality and then there's propaganda (really bad propaganda).

Seer's picture

Putin need only turn off the gas valve to Goldman's buildings (in Europe) and freeze out the bastards.

Physical vs. virtual.  I'll take Putin and Russia for the win here.

Frank N. Beans's picture

In that case, say "dah" to Russia.

666's picture

Putin +1, Obama 0.



Seer's picture

Yeah, let's all BEG for a "better" "leader," that'll fix everything (make unicorns appear etc.).

I believe that the founders of the US didn't want the US involved in the affairs of other countries.  Party pussies are always hypocrites...

TBT or not TBT's picture

And yet they allied with the French against England, formed the marine corps and sent it to the barbary coast(Africa), and declared the whole hemisphere off limits to major powers in their time or in living memory of them.

Seer's picture

Yup!  I always welcome facts :-)

Smedley Butler had a lot to say about the "legacy."

The allying with the French makes some/a bit of sense because this was directed at internal needs: of course, it then broadened out to that "Indian thing," which helped pave the wave for that "Manifest Destiny" thing...

It ALWAYS blows back.  And while it is impossible to recitfy past mistakes at the very least they should be understood (properly- none of this "we were perfect back then, before the <insert whatever scapegoat best serves one's ideological bent here> did <insert whatever "cause" here> B.S.) such that we do NOT make the same mistakes.  Human hubris (wrapped in flags and religious artifacts)...

TheLoveArtist's picture

Obama is a gentile he and the rest of the gentiles would of gained nothing.

more like PUTIN +1 GS and Word Jewish Congress aka Clan of Thieves -1

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

And now that Putin has made a deal with releasing Khodorkovsky with the back of his head in the KGB's crosshairs (if only we could spring Lebedev), I would venture to say that Goldman will have limited latitude in doing the things it most wants to do...

Maybe John McCain on behalf of the Rothschilds is up for a second tour of the Ukraine in the New Year with bull horn in hand to urge on a couple hundred thousand more with freshly printed USD courtesy of the Fed?

Seer's picture

PLEASE!  It's a bit early to be mentioning The Mark of McCain.  I haven't digested my breakfast yet!

I have a hunch that Snowden's situation will be leveraged here: Russia can pardon Khodorkovsky but the US cannot pardon Snowden.  Of course, it's not that the Russians would like to see Snowden leave...  This shit is so easy to spot.

disabledvet's picture

Snowden wants to leave. Brazil I think. How single dork wad can be the enemy of all America is beyond me. The USA is totally ungoverned by a couple hundred people and so is Russia. We have much to discuss.

Seer's picture

Snowden is an "example."  TPTB have to control their "secrets," lest they lose their power.

"The USA is totally ungoverned by a couple hundred people"

I look around and it appears to me that people are amply controlled.  If they were "ungoverned" we'd see all sorts of decorations on our lamp posts...

The sooner that people start seeing this all as a result of nature-imposed scarcity the sooner we can get on with making life more suitable for future survival.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

The new Tres Amigos.

Looks like AIPAC needed to find fresh toilet paper to wipe there asses with after McCain, Graham, Rogers and Feinstein's war drum efforts on another terrorist event taking place -wasn't enough.

I think these guys are trying to tell us all something and it's the holidays so they're counting on us ignoring it -which of course we will.  Remember the NDAA signing by President Obama on December 31, 2011?

USD.  Running out of time!

Seer's picture

If the U.S. cannot control the ME oil then that means that Russia only has more leverage with its oil/gas.  It's all pretty much mapped out in The Grand Chessboard.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture


Breszinski wrote that when American was at the top of it's game and the problem was he and his consorts didn't care how much it would end up costing them and that's why it failed!.  When the Brookings Institute tweaked what was in the "Chessboard" more than two decades later the "war on terror" was supposed to easily fall into place with 7 new acquisition in 5 years... That was 7 years ago. 

They always thought they would own all of the oil on the planet and that reserve currency status would merrily continue.  Well it hasn't and it won't.

Now look at who's gobbling it all up with their open wallets instead of using bombs, rockets and infantry?  This is why we failed and will continue to crash and burn.  The only alternative for the Fed is an all out war with the two that are mopping the floor with them. 

That is if they turn out to be that insane!

Wish Tyler would be more proactive in posting these from time to time.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Lest we forget Pakistan and it's new incorporation into the SCO.  I'm sure the port of Gwadar is safe from any future distractions from "outside intervention"...

Inthemix96's picture

Here Russia, tell them fucking thieving criminals from goldman to fuck off.

And then cut the gas supplies to their EU head quarters, the fucking criminal coffin dodging cunts, and if you still have time before the parasitical skinny necked fuckers have a chance to go try parasite some one else, hang the fuckers, twice, just to make sure, and then skin them, boil the bones in oil, bury the remains, and salt the earth around them.

And for dogs sake, tamp the graves down, incase the bastards try again.


CrashisOptimistic's picture

10.6 million barrels every day.  The companies doing the oil production get about $10/barrel.  The country, Russia, gets $112 (Brent) - $10 = $102 X 10.6 =


Russia consumes about 3.75 mbpd or about 35% of that internally.  So 65% X 1.1 = 715 million dollars per day coming in.  X 365 =

261 billion dollars per year coming in. 

That doesn't even count natgas revenue.

Goldman is in some other universe with downgrading this.

disabledvet's picture

the ruble is worthless. dollars, euros and pounds. and threatening then following though by cutting off energy doesn't mean you get to print more rubles to compensate. Putin's Russia still has a hard money problem.

Seer's picture

You've got a logical point to consider, in which case I'm surprised at the down-votes.

As I've stated, the U.S., Canada and Russia are the only real viable countries long-term.  Reason being: PHYSICAL RESOURCES.

Russia will face decreasing sales for two reasons:

1) Increasing internal demand (all the oil producers encounter this) means less exports, which translates to less revenue;

2) Shrinking income/wealth outside of Russia means people cut back on energy (but mainly only after trimming back everything else first).

"Hard money" is pretty much meaningless in the long-term, when, that is, we're talking about basic sustainment.  Russia, unlike the other oil exporters, isn't a one-trick pony (as isn't the U.S. and Canada).

tony wilson's picture

yes russia are desperate for dollars and bankrupt pounds they got nothing in dat country not like the uk : )

i mean what happens when the shits hits.

In 2011 the dacha gardens of Russia produced 40% of the nation's food.


While many in the world are completely dependent on large scale agriculture, the Russian people feed themselves. Their agricultural economy is small scale, predominantly organic and in the capable hands of the nation's people. Russians have something built into their DNA that creates the desire to grow their own food.

Toolshed's picture

Doesn't Goldmansucks usually do the opposite of what they tell the muppets? C'mon people! Do what they do........not what they say.

Iam Yue2's picture

Ten Years in the Gulag ...

@MoscowTimes: Spreading Malicious Rumors About Bank Stability Should be Punishable, Official.

Nobody say a word about;

"Soaring costs of Sochi Winter Olympics hit investors and Russian development bank VEB. With the 2014 Olympics set to kick off on February 7, construction costs now exceed 1.5 trillion rubles (€33 billion), five times the original cost estimate. Officials justify the cost creep by noting that the original estimate was based on very rough assumptions. Since construction started, numerous new venues have been added and many existing facilities have had to be upgraded to meet the criteria of the International Olympic Committee. A significant share of costs is due to the need to build basic infrastructure for entire districts where there was none.
Some of Russia’s biggest firms and oligarchs have in- vested in Olympic facilities. For example, Sberbank has paid for the media centre and the ski-jumping venue. Gaz- prom is sponsoring the biathlon course and gondola lift. Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element has paid for one of the three Olympic villages, a freight seaport and airport up- grade. Vladimir Potanin’s Interros financed the ski centre. Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group has invested in a 3,600- room hotel complex, Russia’s largest. Tycoons have also had to chip in for construction of regional infrastructure.
Investing firms were eligible for loans from a pool of 240 billion rubles (over €5 billion) provided through Rus- sian’s state development bank VEB.
The wider scope of Sochi construction and huge cost in- creases assure that projects with poor economic prospects initially are now definitive money pits. Several big inves- tors, including Sberbank and Gazprom, asked the govern- ment to restructure their project loans. VEB reports that of the 20 Olympic projects receiving loans, the nine largest are to be restructured. The value of the restructured loans totals 190 billion rubles (over €4 billion). The first loan repay- ments were originally set for next spring, but this week prime minister Dmitri Medvedev announced that repay- ments will not commence until the start of 2016. By that time it should be possible to see how the investments are performing and how much further support is needed.
The government has struggled to find ways to ease the situation of firms that have invested in Sochi projects. Ob- servers note that it would be necessary e.g. to grant interest subsidies on loans and breaks on land and property taxes. The finance ministry opposes interest subsidies and the Krasnodar regional administration would not like to see a reduction of its expected tax income. The government plans to hold large publicly financed events such as investment forums in Sochi to create demand for the region’s services.
VEB itself needs a capital infusion as it struggles with a large portfolio of non-performing loans. VEB’s portfolio has been hit by its Olympic project lending, its loans issued to troubled firms during the 2008–2009 financial crisis and the costs of bailing out three banks. The Russian cabinet this week decided to give VEB a subordinated loan of 200 billion rubles (just over €4 billion). The funds will come out of the National Welfare Fund."

Central Bank of Finland.

disabledvet's picture

it's actually cover for a massive expansion of Russian military basing. don't kid yourself...the 90 meter ski jump platform is a dual use weapons platform for launching bowling balls 200 miles down range into Azerbaijan. "and theeeeere eeeez naaathing u cun doooo avout eet hehehehehe."

SgtShaftoe's picture

Downgrading Russia Sovereign risk, while the US keeps it's place, Russia basically has no debt, and the US has more debt than worldwide GDP?  Only in fantasy land. 

Seer's picture

It's all STOOPID!

I can make the argument that Russia's future isn't so bright, but this doesn't cover for the U.S.'s not being recognized as being worse.  ALL countries who rely on huge export markets are going to feel a contraction: folks need energy, so this sector will fare better than most; this is not to say that it will GROW, and, perhaps, Goldman can be said to be in line when viewed from this angle (but, of course, not in their utter bias of not applying the same metrics to the U.S.).

fijisailor's picture

I have every confidence that the Russians will outmaneuver the bankers and politicians in the US.  They already did it once with the Syrian war.  Goldman and the parasites must be working overtime trying to figure out a way to undermine a major energy producing country like Russia. 

JR's picture

“Unspoken” here is not the economic quotient from Goldman or the lack of political “jawboning” between Putin and Obama. The unspoken chasm between the two countries is now the cultural disagreement; brought to the fore, frankly, over the coming Olympics and the agenda of the homosexual lobby in America.

Who said: “Many countries are “now requiring not only the proper acknowledgement of freedom of conscience, political views in private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgement of the equality of good and evil”?

It was Vladimir Putin in his recent state of the nation address.

Pat Buchanan translates: “While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.”

Buchanan says Putin, here, clearly directs these comments at America after the criticisms of Russia’s limits on gay privileges.

Buchanan said Putin said the “destruction of traditional values” comes from “the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”

Buchanan explains that unelected justices have declared abortion and homosexual acts to be constitutionally protected rights. While Putin said in his address that peoples all over the world are supporting Russia’s “defense of traditional values” against a “so-called tolerance” that is “genderless and infertile.” In France, Buchanan said, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists’ imposition of homosexual marriage.

Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized homosexual marriage. The voice of our Founders still rings in our ears that this nation can only survive if governed by a moral people.

falak pema's picture

Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, La Sodoma (Antonio Bazzi)  and Sandro Botticelli were all known homosexuals as well as being giants of the Renaissance. Leo X, a Medici, was Pope and homosexual.

Humanism was born then.

Just saying, morality is a very versatlile concept and pursuit of happiness an ephemeral dream. Thats part of existentialism or Objectivism for the Ayn Rand clique. 

Didn't stop the Renaissance from being a very creative age. 

Putin and Buchanan are people the "intellectuals" call Paleoconservatives. They share the same values as the AYatollahs and Mollahs of Sunni Islam. Nice cosy company of fellow ideologues on this issue...

Just saying; I like those painters as giants, even tho' I never rode in a Thebian chariot and called anybody blood brother of passion. I prefer the other kind with rounds ones on their chests. 

You have Paleo and Neo, and you have Leo the Last! Great movie! 

JR's picture

The current American Renaissance is taking our beloved country into the fires of Hell: beastiality, wanton murder, and destruction of every moral and religious code ever divised by mankind. And those sentiments of Putin and Pat Buchanan that today's polliticians and media reject are the sentiments of John Adams, of the Founders and Framers of the most important nation ever conceived on the face of the earth.

And the “humanity” of the Hollywood moguls, the Federal Reserve cartel, and the bought politicians who jump and sway with their every command, now has planted America's feet in Hell.

I’m not sure Michael Angelo would have approved.

falak pema's picture

You say true on that/ 

Michael Angelo always declared his lust for life in his male partners was more aesthetic and platonic than sexual.

He was a great moralist and stayed that way all his life.

I would humbly submit that we give that benefit of doubt to all homosexuals, platonic or otherwise. After all free will is not sexually oriented.

As for moral decay its not just a question of sexual orientation as the current times amply prove.





Seer's picture

You know, when I see people so uttery hung up about sexuality I have to wonder what the fuck is THEIR problem.

Sorry you homophobe, but queers aren't going to take over the world, they don't fucking multiply!

But, that "book" that you're programmed doesn't explain LOGIC, so you're stuck with pure, poor programming to go by.

And of (human) hermaphrodites?

And, at what point in your life did you decide to be a "hetrosexual?" (assuming you aren't some closeted hypocrite)

Lash out at whatever you can for your own failing to understand the real world.

JR's picture

Putin is guiding Russia; Obama seems to be guiding America. One seems to be advancing; the other declining. Marxism and atheism defeated the U.S.S.R.; will it defeat the U.S.A.?

I’m not an expert, of course, but your thoughts seem to suggest that you have a misunderstanding of creation.

And the Creator.

First of all, in spite of the nonbelievers, there is a God, a Heaven, and a Hell.

To quote the latest target of Hollywood just in the news, Duck Commander Phil Robertson: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to Heaven, Hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus  -  whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ‘em out later.”

eddiebe's picture

Un- fucking believable.

eddiebe's picture

This country runs on BULLSHIT.

Seer's picture

Well, when you can get people to believe in perpetual growth on a finite planet you can pretty much get them to believe in anything...

Dubaibanker's picture

Goldman perhaps doesn't like the fact that Putin wants all overseas money to return home to Mother Russia? So, who needs Goldman? Maybe Goldman is getting into the cross hairs of the Russian tax man?

MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for a renewed crackdown on Russian companies that dodge taxes by registering in offshore jurisdictions.

Seer's picture

Could also be that there's a turnstile between the U.S. govt and Goldman.  I'd figure that the mechanics could be parlayed through Snowden's "crystal ball."

SDRII's picture

Georgia war olympics; Sorchi?

Russia to redeploy rail based nukes; US test fires minuteman III

US Gen in charge of ICBM removed for womanizing in Russia

US ambassador to Russia (& Tweeter gadflty) resigns post - like China

Bloomberg touting the tidal wave of liquidity outflow from Russia

Beware of the locusts or is it dark pools....


Q up Taibbi

On the part about transforming Yukos into a legitimate company ... I have no comment on that, at least not today. But Nocera, in describing how Khodorkovsky played "fast and loose" in building Yukos, leaves out one important detail: he stole the fucking company!

Read more:
Seer's picture

he stole the fucking company!

What? POWER being dishonest?  Shocked, shocked I tells ya...

"Publc sector" and "private sector" shit is meaningless, it's ALL about POWER, it's human deception, and it doesn't magicaly appear when one sits on some "public sector" chair.

TheLoveArtist's picture

SDRII freaking brilliant links, one fo the comments in the Matt Taibbi article was great here it is...

Not a particularly great sign for Russian business? Are you kidding? You write a pretty decent article (aside from the obligatory Putin-bashing here and there, but that's pretty much a rite of passage for "serious" Western journalists) and then you top it off with that? Do me a favor, tell me about what condition the Russian economy, financial institutions, etc. were in when Putin came to power (hint: crippling debt, government default, the resources of the world's most resource rich nation owned by a dozen people whose only concern was to transfer them out west for piles of cash as quickly as possible [I should know, I worked for them], essentially being one step above Zimbabwe). Now tell me what they were like a couple years later ("impossible" debt paid off, currency stabilized, one of the world's largest financial reserves created, uncertainty over salaries eliminated, economy growing with a stable influx of Western goods and services). You know what pretty much all Putin did to bring about this economic miracle was, more or less? Flat 13% tax rate for everyone who plays by the rules, and, most importantly, punishing Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky for all to see. You know, drawing a line in the sand - "come into Russia, obey all the laws, pay taxes, support an art gallery here and there and you'll make billions of dollars without us breathing down your throat". For all the bad things people like to associate with Putin, and there are quite a few out there (not the frivolous nonsense about him being a journalist repressing democracy hating tyrant, but actual drawbacks such as his allowance of government pressure on the academy of sciences, tolerance of Luzhkov or lenience on United Russia), you'd be lucky to find one Russian out of twenty who, in hindsight, would want anyone other than Putin in charge of Russia from 1999 to at least 2004, if not 2008.
Also, here's some food for thought. Madoff got 150 years. Enron boys got something like that as well. Neither of them did a 10th the damage to the US that Khodorkovsky did to Russia. Who's benevolent now?