NEWSWATCH: “Oil is the cause of Russia’s outsized corruption problem” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“#Russia was wracked by protests over the weekend when an estimated 60,000 people took to the street in more than 80 cities large and small to decry rampant corruption. Russia does have an outsized corruption problem and its #oil wealth is to blame.  … the Russian government has identified corruption as probably the biggest drag on growth and has launched a […]

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The Russian Billionaires on Bloomberg’s Rich List; Only a select few of Russia’s oligarchs make it to the top of the world’s rich lists.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – March 6, 2017) Russia is home to droves of millionaires, business owners and oligarchs: but only a select few make it to the top of the world’s rich lists. Just eight Russian businessmen have made it into the top 100 of Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Together, they boast an estimated net worth of […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Russia Supreme Court Proposes Ban on Pre-Trial Detention for Economic Crimes

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2016) The plenum of Russia’s Supreme Court has proposed banning the arrest of individuals accused of several varieties of economic crimes, the Prime news agency reported Thursday. According to the proposal, suspects can still be detained, but cannot be kept in pre-trial detention if they stand accused of several economic crimes: commercial fraud, […]

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Ukraine’s Millionaire Officials Come Out of Hiding

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – October 31, 2016) If you believe his mandatory income and property declaration, Serhiy Melnichuk, a Ukrainian legislator with a military past, should be one of the wealthiest people in the world. The document says he holds 1 trillion hryvnias ($39 billion) in cash. That’s almost twice Ukraine’s planned revenue for this year and […]

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NEWSLINK RTBH: “Kremlin seeking to repatriate children of Russia’s elite, say reports”

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

Amid growing tensions between Russia and the West, Russian media have reported that the children of officials who are living abroad will soon have to return to Russia.

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NEWSWATCH: “Prokhorov’s Onexim says not selling all Russian assets” – Reuters

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

Onexim Group, owned by tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, said on Monday a newspaper report suggesting it had decided to sell all its assets in Russia was inaccurate. * * * On Monday, Vedomosti newspaper had reported that Prokhorov was searching for buyers of all his assets in Russia, quoting multiple unnamed sources. Onexim owns stakes in aluminium giant Rusal, potash producer […]

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Billionaire Tycoon Prokhorov to Sell All Russian Assets

Mikhail Prokohrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 4, 2016) Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is to sell all of his Russian assets, the Vedomosti business daily reported Monday. Prokhorov’s ONEXIM investment group has various assets in mining, finance, energetics, development and the media. Its larger assets include a 20 percent stake at Russian company Uralkali, the world’s largest producer of potassium, and a […]

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Wealthy Russian Families Lose Up to 75% of Their Income in 2015

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 24, 2016) Wealthy Russian families lost between 25 and 75 percent of their income in 2015, the Vedomosti business daily reported Thursday, citing the Russian Wealth Report 2016. On average, families with an annual income between 15 million and 100 million rubles ($235,000 to $1.5 million) lost 45 percent of their revenue, according to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin and Poroshenko will fail because corruption is the system in Russia, Ukraine” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

… The irony is that Russia and Ukraine find themselves in exactly the same place: both countries are suffering from an economic miasma and both need deep and far-reaching reforms if they are to prosper. The difference between them is that Russia is half way through the process and will very like actually make some more reforms, whereas Ukraine is at the […]

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Government incomes: Abyzov pulls into first place in 2015

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) – Open Government Affairs Minister Mikhail Abyzov, the only member of the government on the Forbes list of billionaires, pulled ahead of other members of the government in terms of income last year, thanks to a near doubling of his own earnings and a decline for his main competitor, Alexander Khloponin. Abyzov and his wife had […]

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Panama Papers scandal: What was the reaction in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Even though most Russian newspapers wrote about the discovery of the Panama offshore bank accounts belonging to politicians and businessmen close to Vladimir Putin, public reaction to the scandal was rather muted. Russians exchanged jokes and comments about the information policy of the main Russian TV channels, which, unlike the newspapers, did not report on the scandalous leak. (Russia Beyond […]

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Top U.S. Official: Ukraine Reforms Endangered By Oligarchs Fighting Back

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016) A top U.S. administration official has taken pointed aim at the wealthiest Ukrainian tycoons, known as oligarchs, accusing them of undermining the country’s anticorruption reform efforts. Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European аnd Eurasian Affairs, warned on March 15 that, if efforts to liberalize the economy and fight endemic graft […]

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‘Why Didn’t You Run?’ – The Inside Story on the Arrest of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Kamenshchik

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – February 25, 2016) On the morning of Feb. 18, Dmitry Kamenshchik, Russia’s 27th-richest tycoon, packed a backpack with some spare clothes, a toothbrush, and shoes without laces – the essentials for a stint in prison. The billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was unemotional, says his lawyer. Ten days earlier, three current […]

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A Fallen Russia Oligarch Sends Warning to Rest of Putin Insiders

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik – January 12, 2016) He was one of the most powerful men in Russia for a decade, an old pal of the president who oversaw a million workers and a rail network spanning 11 time zones. But then Vladimir Yakunin was suddenly out, ending a career that included a stint as an intelligence officer […]

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Back to the Uncertain Future for Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Dmitry Elovsky, Mikhail Fishman – December 17, 2015) The mob-style execution of Vladimir Petukhov, mayor of the Siberian oil capital Nefteyugansk, one summer morning in 1998 was not an unusual occurrence for the “wild 90s” era of Russian business. But it has returned to the spotlight as part of the reanimated prosecution of former Yukos […]

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Gazprom’s Miller Tops Russia’s Best Paid Executive List With $27 Million

Gas Facility file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 20, 2015) Russia’s highest-paid executive last year with earnings of $27 million was Alexei Miller, the head of natural gas producer Gazprom, according to a ranking published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine on Thursday that showed a sharp fall in the incomes of many of Russia’s top corporate bosses. Miller, 53, bucked […]

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If the Russian Elite is to Preserve Itself, It Must Change,’ Gudkov Says

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 5, 2015) Many commentators are speculating on whether Russia’s elite groups, now threatened by Vladimir Putin’s policies, will find a way to remove him from office and install someone more to their liking. Andrey Piontkovsky has focused particular attention on this issue (nv.ua/opinion/piontkovskiy/putin-protiv-rossijskih-elit-78063.html). But this is only part of a larger […]

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Five Questions: The Arrest Of Ukrainian Oligarch Hennadiy Korban

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – Anna Shamanska – November 3, 2015) The arrest of a close associate of one of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs has pundits and the public wondering whether President Petro Poroshenko is finally cracking down on corruption or merely trying to silence political opponents. Hennadiy Korban, the head of the anti-Poroshenko UKROP party, was initially arrested at his home on […]

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Putin’s Mafia Statecraft

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – October 27, 2015) In the past couple years, Russian hackers have launched attacks on a French television network, a German steelmaker, the Polish stock market, the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. State Department, and The New York Times. And according to press reports citing Western intelligence officials, the perpetrators […]

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Fitness training for dinosaurs; As austerity begins to bite, Russia’s state-owned firms are facing growing pressure to shape up

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Miller in Moscow – October 15, 2015) Though Vladimir Yakunin was sacked from his post as head of state-owned Russian Railways back in August, the shock is still reverberating through Russia’s biggest and most powerful companies. A long-time friend of President Vladimir Putin, Yakunin was thought to be one of the most influential […]

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Ukraine ‘breadbasket’ prepares for its next heyday

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Benjamin Rahr in London – October 7, 2015) Despite Ukraine’s 18-month old civil war and the loss of territories in the east of the country, it has impressively maintained its status as one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products. Now the pro-European government in Kyiv hopes that its agribusiness, bolstered by a […]

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Saakashvili for Prime Minister of Ukraine?

Mikheil Saakashvili file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – September 23, 2015) After 24 years of independence and two revolutions, the promise of reforms that would turn Ukraine from a kleptocracy enabled by Soviet-era institutions into, say, Poland still hasn’t materialized. Popular patience is wearing thin. So three months ago, President Petro Poroshenko sent his friend (and Russia’s bete noire) Mikheil Saakashvili […]

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Kids of Russia’s billionaires charge into business

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – September 14, 2015) It’s been just under a quarter of a century since the fall of the Soviet Union and in that time a relatively small group of men have become fabulously wealthy in the rough and tumble of Russia’s “wild capitalism”. As most of Russia’s tycoons are approaching […]

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Russia’s Richest Billionaire: Impact of Sanctions Is Waning

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ryan Chilcote, Yuliya Fedorinova – May 18, 2015) Russia’s richest man said international investors are coming back to the country and the impact of sanctions has peaked. “Now it’s getting clear that the situation is more politically stable or predictable,” Vladimir Potanin, who heads Russia’s biggest miner, OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, said in an interview with […]

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Questions Raised Over Poroshenko’s Role In Valuable Kyiv Land Deal

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Maksym Savchuk, Daisy Sindelar – May 13, 2015) KYIV — An investigation by RFE/RL shows that Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko may have used his presidential influence to shut down investigations into a land deal aimed at building a private mansion on a historic site in the Ukrainian capital. Two reports broadcast on RFE/RL’s Ukrainian-language television program, […]

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Media serfdom in Ukraine

Maidan was meant to set Ukrainian media free, but the press remains dependent on the oligarchs. (opendemocracy.net – Otar Dovzhenko – May 6, 2015) Otar Dovzhenko lectures at the School of Journalism at Ukrainian Catholic University, L’viv and is the former editor of Telekritika, Ukraine’s leading platform for media commentary. He has been involved in monitoring Ukrainian media since 2005. On 25 […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Judge Rebuffs U.S. in Rejecting Extradition of Ukraine Billionaire

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

In a defeat for the United States, an Austrian judge refused Thursday to order the extradition of Dmitri V. Firtash, a Ukrainian billionaire and onetime patron of the country’s ousted president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, siding with defense lawyers who said the American request was politically motivated.

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The rise and fall of the Russian oligarchy; Newly declassified U.S. documents, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Vladimir Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle between pro-US oligarchs and pro-state conservatives

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack – April 14, 2015) Fifteen years after the then unknown Vladimir Putin took over the Russian presidency, analysts still puzzle over how he arrived in the position. Newly declassified documents from President Bill Clinton’s administration, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle for power […]

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NEWSWATCH Chatham House: Ukraine’s Oligarch Gambit

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Writing for Chatham House in the aftermath of Igor Kolomoisky’s dismissal as regional governor, Orysia Lutsevych considers the impact of Ukrainian oligarchs and efforts to address their role. The grip the oligarchs have on Ukraine’s economy could further undermine the country’s integrity. Attacking their vested interests is dangerous but preserving the current state of affairs is even riskier.   According to […]

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Team Kolomoisky; It’s easy to make misleading conclusions when it comes to Team Kolomoisky – if you don’t know Dnipropetrovsk from the inside

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(opendemocracy.net – Victoria Narizhna – April 9, 2015) Victoria Narizhna is a Ukrainian columnist, essayist, translator, cultural manager, and civil activist from Dnipropetrovsk. After Ihor Kolomoisky, a pro-Maidan oligarch and governor of Dnipropetrovsk, allegedly used volunteer fighters to seize control of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company, he resigned his governorship live on television, causing a rift in Ukraine’s power elites. The ensuing scandal […]

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NEWSLINK Newsweek: Mystery of Ukraine’s Richest Man and a Series of Unlikely Suicides

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Feuding oligarchs are battling to retain or increase their influence in the new order, and their lieutenants are turning up dead. Melnychuk was a prosecutor in the southern port town of Odessa, governed by Kolomoisky ally Ihor Palytsia. He is just one of at least eight officials appointed by the Yanukovych regime, ousted by pro-democracy protesters in February last year, […]

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Fight between Ukraine’s government and oligarchs embroils largest lender Privatbank

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Kyiv – April 1, 2015) The war between Ukraine’s government and the oligarchs has reached into the fragile banking system, as the central bank felt moved to reassure depositors in Privatbank, the country’s largest, after allies of President Petro Poroshenko made murder allegations regarding its owner, Ihor Kolomoisky. The National Bank […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: Russia’s rich forego some luxuries but still back Putin

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

[“Russia’s rich forego some luxuries but still back Putin” – Reuters – Elizabeth Piper –  March 29, 2015] Reuters covers the reactions among Russia’s elite to economic changes such as Western sanctions, a falling ruble, oil price losses and other disruptions. … the enforced modesty has not yet driven the super wealthy out of Russia or against President Vladimir Putin, who […]

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Pressure on Kolomoyskyi is U.S. attempt to create centralized Ukraine with strong anti-Russian govt – Duma deputy

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

MOSCOW. March 24 (Interfax) – The events around Ukrainian governor Ihor Kolomoyskyi attest that he is not among the people the West is planning to build relations with, says Mikhail Yemelyanov, first deputy leader of A Just Russia Party faction. “It is clear that Kolomoyskyi is not the politician with whom the U.S. and Europeans would like to deal, hence […]

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NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Ukraine’s latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[“Ukraine’s latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies; Gov. Igor Kolomoisky, who was given political power and the right to create a private army last year, last week used that power to seize the state oil company’s headquarters in Kiev” – Christian Science Monitor –  Fred Weir – March 25, 2015] The Christian Science Monitor reports on developments in Ukraine surrounding billionaire […]

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Moscow Times: Internal Rifts in Ukraine Play in Russia’s Favor – Analysts

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 25, 2015) When the incoming Ukrainian government faced the threat of sweeping separatism in the country’s eastern regions one year ago, pugnacious billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky was the only oligarch to help. As other tycoons hovered on the fence, unsure of how the ongoing fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in the country’s […]

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Ukraine’s Catch 22 over its oligarch class

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Mark Adomanis in Philadelphia – March 25, 2015) As the Soviet Union collapsed in both Russia and Ukraine, small groups of extremely clever and even more ruthless men “privatized” (or if you prefer less exalted language “stole”) all of the prize industrial assets. Virtually overnight, these formerly mid-ranking bureaucrats and functionaries became billionaires, some […]

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NEWSWATCH: ‘Putin’s brain’ says he doesn’t have Putin’s ear. Do we know who does?

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

[“‘Putin’s brain’ says he doesn’t have Putin’s ear. Do we know who does? As fighting in Ukraine flares up again, one influential voice says that Putin has sidelined him. And Putin’s oligarch allies, smarting from Western sanctions, have reportedly lost influence as well.” – Fred Weir – Christian Science Monitor – January 27, 2015] The Christian Science Monitor considers the question […]

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Putin Said to Shrink Inner Circle as Hawks Beat Billionaires

Kremlin and Environs Aerial View

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – January 23, 2015) Vladimir Putin isn’t just angering leaders from Berlin to Washington. He’s irking some of his richest friends, too, by snubbing their pleas to end the conflict in Ukraine and ostracizing all but a handful of hardliners. The ruble’s plunge has heightened opposition to Putin’s backing of the rebellion […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Russia’s Mobutu?

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Derek Brower in London – January 13, 2015) Corruption in Vladimir Putin’s Russia has sprouted its own sub-genre for Western publishers. Few of the many books, though, have the laser-like focus or amass the same devastating detail as Karen Dawisha’s “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?” (Simon & Schuster, New York: 2014). Thanks to Britain’s […]

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