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Russian Oligarchs Regain their Influence
February 15, 2011 16:12

After losing the fortune during the crisis, Russian oligarchs are regaining their influence with the help of the authorities, participating in the development of strategic projects.

In a sleepy area 20 kilometers west of central Moscow, in a place where Russians have their dachas, a new Skolkovo project rises. This place has been selected for a huge science park where the government will invest billions of dollars. Also, the new business school is being built on the edge of Nemchinovo. According to BBC, "the project will also be largely autonomous with its own water and power supplies - amenities that can often be frustrating to secure for Russian companies".

The Center of Innovative Technology is an analog of the U.S. Silicon Valley. As it was said, that with this project Russian economy will be able to get rid of the eternal dependence on oil and gas exports.

The project has a powerful leadership. The president instructed Viktor Vekselberg, Russian billionaire, to coordinate the project. Viktor Vekselberg is a vice-president of oil company TNK-BP, he is also famous for his purchase of Faberge collection of nine eggs owned by the Imperial House of Romanov, according to El Mundo magazine.

After that notable purchase Mr. Vekselberg became prominent representative of oligarchs along with the owner of Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich, who is also participating in the development of new technologies in Skolkovo project. The businessman is also funding the construction of sport schools and football fields in Russia. What about Mr. Vekselberg — he is now to realize the Kremlin's project of enormous proportions, which is going to require investment amounting up to 4,8 billion euros.

The oligarchs, involved in the innovative project had already perfectly learned a useful lesson from the arrest of the Yukos company owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had been sentenced for tax evasion, says El Mundo. During Putin's years of power, the oligarchs who decided not to obey, had to leave the country, according to the magazine.

Along with familiar persons, such as Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Lisin (the richest man in Russia, according to the Forbes), the other not so popular businessmen are already on the rise: Gennady Timchenko, co-owner of the Swiss group Gunvor and oil magnate; Arkady Rotenberg, head of the judo club "Yawara-Neva", and his brother Boris, vice president of the Russian Judo Federation. Another person on the rise is the chairman of the board of directors of "Russia" bank Yury Kovalchuk, who has given a part of his capital for the construcion of a large section of the highway from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The crisis of 2008 has reduced the number of oligarchs by a half, according to El Mundo. Debts forced some of them to seek assistance from the state and other creditors. In early 2010 the number of Russian multimillionaires who are mentioned in the list of Forbes, has increased from 32 to 62 persons.

Also Russian billionaires have to thank China’s remarkable economic expansion, says Neil Buckley, the blogger. "The upper echelons of the richest 500 Russians list published by Moscow-based Finans magazine are still packed with metals, materials and oil magnates. The resurgence in their wealth owes much to rebounding prices of materials – driven above all by Chinese demand" — says the blogger. According to the author, "the top ten includes the steel barons Vladimir Lisin, head of the NLMK steel giant in first place, Alisher Usmanov of Metalloinvest in third, Roman Abramovich, who now has a stake in Evraz steel company, in fifth, and Alexei Mordashov of Severstal in sixth. Mikhail Prokhorov, chairman of Polyus Gold, is in second, while former business partner Vladimir Potanin – biggest asset Norilsk Nickel – is ninth".


Tags: Vekselberg Mikhail Khodorkovsky Skolkovo Russian oligarchs  

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