NEWSWATCH: “How to Stop Vladimir Putin’s Mafia; The real enemy is a group of about 100 beneficiaries of the regime and several thousand accomplices” – Wall Street Journal/Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky file photo

“… The West’s real enemy – and the enemy of the Russian people too – is a group of about 100 key beneficiaries of the Putin regime, and several thousand of their accomplices, many of whom hold posts in the Federal Security Service and the presidential administration.  Most of these people began their careers in the criminal underworld of St. […]

» Read more

Russian parliament moves to extend capital amnesty

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – February 9, 2018) The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, has passed in third and final reading a package of bills extending the existing capital amnesty programme, which was proposed by President Vladimir Putin late in 2017. In December, Putin announced that Russia’s existing programme – aimed at encouraging wealthy Russians holding assets abroad to transfer […]

» Read more

NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

» Read more

Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

» Read more

Why The List Matters

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 31, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-why-the-list-matters/29009462.html) So by now we’ve all probably heard the initial reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department’s much-anticipated list of the most influential Russian officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions. It’s nothing more than a “who’s who” […]

» Read more

Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

» Read more

Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 14, 2017) After alerting the Western world to the alarming rise of inequality, Thomas Piketty has turned his attention to Russia. To someone who has lived through Russia’s transition from Communism to crony capitalism, his take on that transition reveals deep flaws in his overall methodology — but some of his conclusions […]

» Read more

Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

» Read more

NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

» Read more

NEWSLINK: “Unequal Russia: is anger stirring in the global capital of inequality?” – The Guardian (UK)  

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country’s wealth, Russia is rated the most unequal of the world’s major economies. Amid falling oil prices and a wave of protests, Shaun Walker asks how Russians really feel about life’s inequalities. …”

» Read more

NEWSWATCH: “Online dissidents expose the Russian prime minister’s material empire; The truth about Dmitry Medvedev lives on the Internet” – Washington Post

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“… #Medvedev has been seen in [items] … ordered online and delivered to an address linked to a web of companies and charities controlled by close confidants and relatives. After months spent probing the network, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by opposition activist Alexei #Navalny, has released a video and documentation it says show … Medvedev has accumulated more than $1 billion worth of […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

Putin Bans Officials From Owning Foreign Assets Via Third Parties

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 29, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning state officials from owning “foreign financial instruments” through third parties. The text of the new law – which applies to members of parliament, government officials, and law enforcement officers – was published on an official government legal website. The document defines foreign financial […]

» Read more

NEWSLINK bne Intellinews: “Russia’s Watcom shopping index back at 2015 levels as consumption recovers”

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

“… The Russian shopping footfall index accelerated once again in the 44th week of the year as consumer confidence gathers momentum and the hoi polloi go shopping thanks to a slew of improving (but still far from ideal) macroeconomic indicators, according to the Watcom Shopping index. …”

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

Russia’s Widening Wealth Divide Poses Risks to Central Bank

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andrey Biryukov – October 19, 2016) The Bank of Russia is discovering yet another downside to how little is left of the country’s middle class. The central bank has warned that its ability to steer inflation is at risk from growing wealth inequality and the disappearance of the middle-income households that are the most sensitive to […]

» Read more

NEWSLINK Irrussianality/Paul Robinson: “FOREIGN EDUCATION”

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

“According to the website Znak, a strong recommendation has been issued to Russian state officials to bring home any children who are studying abroad. Strictly speaking, this is not mandatory, but ‘One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career”.’ This […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

Putin’s a Pauper, His Friends Are Rich

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 4, 2016) Recent reports by two consortia of investigative journalists purport to have exposed the dealings and offshore accounts of some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest associates. They don’t name him as a beneficiary of any account, suggesting that Putin is as poor as a church mouse — or would be […]

» Read more

Where does the Russian Orthodox Church get its money from?

Patriarch Kirill file photo

The Russian Orthodox Church is not only a religious organization, but also a large corporation that does business. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – March 9, 2016) In 2014, the Russian Orthodox Church received $75.7 million of revenues from ceremonies, sales of religious literature and donations, according to the Federal Tax Service. All of this […]

» Read more

Moscow Times: Russian Middle Class Has Not Felt Impact of Economic Crisis

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 29, 2016) Russia’s middle class has not yet felt the impact of the economic crisis, the Kommersant newspaper reported Monday citing a report by the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Most middle class Russians have retained their jobs and income levels, and many have even reduced their debt burden under […]

» Read more

U.S. Senator Predicts Revelations Of Putin’s Wealth Will Destabilize His Rule

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – February 1, 2016) A senior U.S. lawmaker says revelations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth will be “destabilizing” to his rule as the Russian population becomes increasingly aware of them. U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Voice Of America on February 1 that the Russian people “are beginning […]

» Read more

U.S. Official Says Putin Is Secretly Wealthy, Corrupt

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 26, 2016) The BBC is reporting that the United States has long considered Russian President Vladimir Putin to be secretly wealthy, corrupt, and focused on enriching his friends and allies. Adam Szubin, the U.S. Treasury’s acting secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, said in an interview with BBC Panorama that the Russian president had been […]

» Read more

Debt repayment falters as ruble stays unsteady

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

Amid continuously falling incomes, debt help groups thrive as Russians turn to different solutions to repay loans. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – December 2, 2015) In the past year, arrears on loans have reached record levels. Borrowers are finding it more difficult to repay their loans due to the steep devaluation of the ruble […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

Russia Sees Biggest Decline in Wages, Retail Sales Since 1999

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – November 19, 2015) Russian wages and retail sales declined by the most since 1999, a sign consumer demand will remain a weak link in the economy’s efforts to break out of its first recession in six years. Real wages fell 10.9 percent in October from a year earlier, a deeper contraction than the […]

» Read more

Half of Russia’s Richest People Are Planning to Cash Out

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Alexander Sazonov – November 13, 2015) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-13/putin-s-gilded-cage-russia-s-rich-are-facing-cash-out-conundrum] It’s been a quarter century since the fall of the Soviet empire triggered one of history’s greatest wealth transfers. Now bankers are preparing for another as Russia’s first generation of capitalists makes way for the next. Confidential surveys of dozens of millionaires and billionaires conducted since European […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

Russia comes out worst in wealth equality study

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Henry Kirby in London – July 2, 2015) Over four-fifths of Russia’s national wealth is held by just one-tenth of the overall population, according to the 2014 Global Wealth Databook, produced by financial services group Credit Suisse. The 84.8% of wealth held by the top decile of Russia’s population was the highest proportion measured […]

» Read more

In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer – May 13, 2015) Expectant mothers in Moscow must wait as long as six weeks for ultra-sound scans, up from three days last year. Hospital outpatients pay for blood tests and X-rays that were free 12 months ago. And Marif Alekberov, a 27-year-old fireman with leukemia, is being told to find […]

» Read more

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, […]

» Read more

Champagne Tastes On Beer Incomes: Tax Declarations In Ukraine Suggest Enduring Corruption

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Katya Gorchinskaya – KYIV, April 21, 2015) Yulia Tymoshenko didn’t have much of an income in 2014. The former Ukrainian prime minister spent part of the year in prison, part of it rehabilitating in the hospital, and much of it in back-to-back campaigns for president and parliament. But nevertheless, she managed to buy a luxury car, […]

» Read more

Poor Putin’s Wealthy Friends

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 16, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has an optics problem: Even as he asks people to be patient with the economic turmoil brought on in part by his response to Western sanctions, new income and property declarations are demonstrating that he and his top staffers aren’t sharing the pain. During today’s four-hour […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

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 […]

» Read more

How to Become a Russian Billionaire With No Help from the Kremlin

Krasnodar and Road

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 20, 2014) It’s a hot day in Krasnodar, deep in southern Russia. The action is hot on the soccer field, too. Ari, the local club’s Brazilian striker, takes a pass from the left flank and scores a beautiful goal. Ari (full name Ariclenes da Silva Ferreira) then wheels away in celebration to […]

» Read more

Riches Don’t Come Honestly in Russia, Most Russians Say

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 6, 2014) More than 60 percent of Russians think it is impossible to get rich honestly in their country, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Levada Center, an independent pollster. Fifteen percent of respondents said that it was possible to become wealthy honestly 15 to 20 years ago, but that times have […]

» Read more

Russian Elites Still View Putin as Their Defense Against Russian People, Skobov Says

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 30, 2014) Members of Russian elites see Vladimir Putin as the only person who can maintain the existing system in which they are beneficiaries and protect them from having to go head to head with the Russian people as a whole, Aleksandr Skobov says. Consequently, they will stick with him even […]

» Read more

For the Russian elite, loyalty is all: Life has changed for Russia’s elite – and not just their holiday destinations…

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

(opendemocracy.net – Yelizaveta Surnacheva – October 16, 2014) Yelizaveta Surnacheva is a journalist at Kommersant. In the last six months, Russian officials, oligarchs, CEOs of state-owned businesses, parliamentary deputies, and regional governors have found themselves in a new world, with new missions, new economic circumstances, and new mechanisms for decision-making. Not many are comfortable with it, but enough of them […]

» Read more

Daching: How to Get Beaten Up in the Russian Countryside

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – August 11, 2014) Many extreme sports, from snowboarding to air racing, are known health hazards. But only one can lead to indiscriminate beating, allegations of terrorism, jail and even self-imposed exile – and all you need to do is take a stroll through supposedly public land. Dozens of Russian officials, from President […]

» Read more
1 2