The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a volatile but highly advantageous environment for young Russian businessmen eager to build the fledgling market economy by any means necessary. Striking extraordinary deals with the government to acquire newly privatized industries, a small group of men became phenomenally rich almost overnight. The most successful of these oligarchs was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who quickly became the wealthiest man in Russia. Khodorkovsky was unique, because he invested not only in business, but in true social reform and a new ideal of an open society, an attitude that ran afoul of the absolute rule of Vladimir Putin. Within months of announcing a deal which would have opened the formerly state-controlled Russian oil industry to investment by Western corporations, Khodorkovsky and his business partners were arrested and jailed for fraud and tax evasion.
Tracing Khodorkovsky’s dramatic, rise to power and subsequent fall at the hands of Putin’s KGB-infested government, this probing, deeply troubling documentary reveals a nation still unsure of its commitment to economic and social liberties.