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Viktor Vekselberg. An Interview to the Austrian Newspaper
July 8, 2011 13:53

Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg doesn't want to be associated with other Russian oligarchs. He keeps aloof from politics and prefers to deal with the creation of Russia's economy and high technologies. 
 An Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse has talked to the oligarch, the interview is below. 
Die Presse: The Skolkovo project aims to create Russian Silicon Valley. Is it possible to start it from point zero, having enough money? 
Viktor Vekselberg: We don't want to create a new Silicon Valley. It is developing under some other circumstances. There will be no result if we just try to repeat what had been already done. We just want to learn from the experience gained in the creating of the Silicon Valley and use it in our project. 
— Skolkovo is a project of the government. It is known that Russia wants to reorient its economy and move from basic goods production to high technologies. You have been chosen as Skolkovo project coordinator. What is your relationship with Russian politics? 
— First of all, I would like to say, that Skolkovo is not a political project. It's true, that the Russian government and the President were the initiators of the project. As you note, Russia should develop towards high technologies. But it is also about to change the mentality of Russian scientists. They should obtain an environment in which they will be able to turn their researching into commercial projects. During the past 20 years many talented people have been leaving the country. Alone Skolkovo won't be able to change the situation, it should be a pilot project. 
— In addition to Skolkovo, you have your own industrial conglomerate, which costs billions. Do you apprehend yourself as an oligarch? 
— I hope that after this interview the word "oligarch" will not be associated with my name and people will call me an "innovator" or a "project coordinator of Skolkovo". The word "oligarch" doesn't reflect the person I am. 
— In the West there are a plenty of prejudice against wealthy Russian businessmen who buy firms. As you said, you have already felt that when engaged in investments projects in Switzerland. How do you see these concerns?
— Such fears of Swiss shareholders decreased with the time. Anyway, I would like to note, that Russian businessmen are different. According to these cliché, Russian businessmen are the "long arms of Kremlin" and some other negative aspects are associated with Russians... But that time has gone with the beginning of the economic development of new Russia. 
— Many people are trying to understand what are the sources of the immense of oligarchs? How did you earn your first million? 
— I'm not so young, it's almost 20 years I am working in the economy. I managed to get my first capital in the early 1990s, during the privatization process. No one can deny the fact that there were a unique chance and this situation will not happen in the future. In addition, not only Russians benefited from that situation. For example, BP company was able to get a good income in Russia, using its joint venture TNK-BP. 

Author: Ksenia Dzhalagonia

Tags: Russian businessmen Russian oligarchs    

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