Monday, June 25, 2007

The Rise And Fall Of The Russian Oligarchs

"Freed from the shackles of communism in the 1990s, Russia seemed to be entering an era of rebirth. But as is often the case in that country, history unfolded harshly. For the majority of Russians, the transition to a market system was painful and chaotic - and anything but democratic. Amid the confusion, a few shrewd and ruthless businessmen exploited the loopholes in the Soviet economy to make fast money, staving off a return to communist rule.

"Nicknamed the Oligarchs, these men, all billionaires, manoeuvred their way into Russia's political inner circle during Glasnost, are credited with Boris Yeltsin's re-election in 1996, and suspected of anointing Vladimir Putin in 1999. They're powerful men with powerful enemies, and they continue to shape Russian society. Dizzying in its detail, The Rise and Fall of the Russian Oligarchs puts modern-day Russia into perspective."

"Business oligarch is a near-synonym of the term "business magnate". The choice of the word oligarch denotes the significant influence such wealthy individuals may have on the life of a nation. However, in modern Russia it is very common to apply this term to any business tycoon, regardless of whether or not he has real political power. The term came into wide circulation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in reference to those individuals who acquired tremendous wealth in some post-Soviet republics.

"The Russian oligarchs are business entrepreneurs who started under Gorbachev during his period of market liberalization. Rare goods, such as PCs and jeans, were smuggled into the country and sold on the black market for a hefty profit, an unforeseen consequence of partial market liberalization with still excessive trade restrictions. In the 1990s, the oligarchs emerged as well connected entrepreneurs who started from nearly nothing and got rich through participation in the market via connections to the corrupt, but democratically elected, government of Russia during the state's transition to a market-based economy."

"Post-Soviet business oligarchs includes relatives or close associates of government officials, even government officials themselves as well as criminal bosses who achieved vast wealth by acquiring state assets very cheaply (or for free) during the privatization process controlled by the Yeltsin government. Specific accusations of corruption are often levelled at Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar, two of the 'Young Reformers' chiefly responsible for 'shock therapy' privatization in the early 1990's."

-List of Russian Oligarchs-

From Russian Forbes, May 2005. Wealth in 1,000,000,000 (Billion USD).

1. Roman Abramovich 18.2 (Millhouse Capital, sold Sibneft Oil)

2. Vladimir Lisin 7.0 (Novolipetsk Steel)

3. Viktor Vekselberg 6.1 (Renova Group)

4. Oleg Deripaska 5.8 (Rusal Aluminium)

5. Mikhail Fridman 5.8 (Alfa Group)

6. Vladimir Yevtushenkov 5.1 (Sistema Telecommunications, Finance, Real Estate)

7. Alexei Mordashov 5.1 (Severstal Ferrous Metallurgy)

8. Vladimir Potanin 4.7 (Interros)

9. Mikhail Prokhorov 4.7 (Interros)

10. Vagit Alekperov 4.1 (LUKoil Petroleum)

11. Viktor Rashnikov 3.6 (Ferrous Metallurgy)

12. German Khan 3.5 (Finances, Telecom)

13. Boris Ivanishvili 3.0 (Metallurgy, Finances)

14. Alexander Abramov 2.9 (Evraz Group steel)

15. Aleksei Kuzmichev 2.7 (Petroleum, Finances, Telecom)

16. Suleiman Kerimov 2.6 (Investor)

17. Vladimir Bogdanov 2.3 (Petroleum)

18. Iskander Makhmudov 2.2 (Non-Ferrous Metallurgy)

19. Nikolay Tsvetkov 2.2 (Uralsib Finance)

20. Alisher Usmanov 2.0 (Ferrous Metallurgy)

21. Mikhail Khodorkovsky 2.0 (Yukos Petroleum)

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