Pavel Khodorkovskiy's father was, at one time, the richest man in Russia. As the head of the now-bankrupted oil giant Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky amassed a $15 billion fortune before being jailed by the Russian government in 2005. But his father was recently pardoned by President Vladimir Putin following international backlash, and now the younger Khodorkovskiy is building his own energy company: a cleantech startup.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Khodorkovskiy recently wound down his responsibilities at the Institute of Modern Russia, a pro-democracy think tank he created, to "focus" on helping "buildings consume less energy." A noble—if not ironic—goal, given his family made its fortune polluting the planet.

Khodorkovskiy's company, Enertiv, builds energy meters and energy monitoring and management software that has been praised by Betabeat for showing users how much electricity (and money) they're wasting. However, the Wall Street Journal reports his oil baron father was nevertheless "not impressed" the worthy venture.

"He was very skeptical for a while," Pavel Khodorkovskiy said of his father. "He thinks in different orders of magnitude."

It was only until Khodorkovskiy received financial backing from Silicon Valley's notoriously whimsical venture capitalists did his doubtful father have any faith:

The company just closed on a $700,000 seed investment round, as VentureWire reported this morning.

"When we raised money he believed we were on the right track," Pavel Khodorkovskiy said. It was "validation from other investors."

Like they say, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, especially if VCs are cool with the concept.

Photo: Pavel Khodorkovskiy