Adversities can be opportunities for some folks to make their fortunes.
The wealthiest Russian people, primarily men, became rich after the collapse of the USSR. It can sound like it was a long time ago, but the USSR fell just in 1991. The dissolution led to Russian privatization, which allowed several businessmen to get ownership of state-owned assets. So, when history happened, they quickly took the situation under their control. Today, they are among the wealthiest people in Russia. So, if you were wondering who’s among the most influential people of the biggest country in the world, check out this list.
10 Leonid Mikhelson – $33.7 Billion
The founder and the chairman of Novatek, the second-largest natural gas producer, Mikhelson started his career as a foreman for a company that constructed a gas pipeline in Russia. He’s also business partners with Gennady Timchenko in the petrochemical company Sibur Holding. Since 2017, he increased his stake from 17% to 48%. Mikhelson loves art; he was collecting 19th-century Russian paintings. In 2009, he set up an organization, V-A-C, or Victoria, the Art of being Contemporary, which supports and presents contemporary art projects from Russia and the Post-Soviet countries.
9 Vladimir Potanin – $32.7 Billion
Potanin is the author of the ‘loans-for-shares’ program, which led to the emergence of the Russian Oligarchs. Along with today’s oligarchs, he became wealthy thanks to acquiring state assets for a meager price during the privatization period in the early 1990s. Potanin owns over a third of the Russian company Norilsk Nickel, the largest mining and metal company. Additionally, together with Mikhail Prokhorov, he found one of the largest private banks in Russia, Onexim Bank. That’s not the end, Potanin has a ski resort near Sochi, and he has stakes in Petrovax Pharm, a pharmaceutical company.
8 Aleksey Mordashov – $28.3 Billion
Mordashov is the son of mill workers who became the finance director of a steel mill. In 2015, he left the CEO position at Sevestral, where he has the majority of shares. In addition, Mordashov owns approximately 30% of TUI Group, a German tourism and travel company.
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7 Vladimir Lisin – $27.9 Billion
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A chairman of the largest steelmaker company in Russia, Novolipetsk Steel, Lisin got the majority stake in the company. Additionally, he was boarding in multi-billion dollar steel companies, like Sayansk, Novokuznetsk Aluminum Plants, and MMK. Interestingly, he worked as a mechanic, then a shop manager, and later, as Deputy Chief Engineer.
6 Gennady Timchenko – $23.4 Billion
A business partner of Leonid Mikhelson, Timchenko is a stakeholder in Novatek, a gas company, and Sibur Holding, a petrochemical producer. Also, he’s president of the SKA Saint-Petersburg Hockey Club and chairman of the Russian national hockey league KHL. Timchenko has close ties with Vladimir Putin because of which he faced US sanctions in 2014.
5 Alisher Usmanov – $21.7 Billion
Usmanov knows how to make money – he produced plastic bags, which were scarce in Soviet times. Today, Usmanov has assets in several very successful startups, like Alibaba, Airbnb, and Spotify. He was an early Facebook investor. Apart from this, Usmanov is a USM founder, a holding and investments company. He owns Megafon, a Russian photo operator, and part of Metalloinvest, a Russian steel company. In 2006 he founded an Art, Science, and Sport Charity Foundation where he donated more than $2,6 billion.
4 Vagit Alekperov – $21.4 Billion
Alekperov is the head of the famous oil company Lukoil. It’s the third-largest company in Russia, along with Rosneft and Sberbank. In 1990-1991 he was the Deputy Minister of the Soviet Union’s oil and gas industry. And, he owns Dutch shipyard Heesen Yachts, together with Leonid Fedun.
3 Roman Abramovich – $18.8 Billion
Abramovich was among those who became wealthy after the USSR collapsed. In 2003 he bought the Chelsea Football Club for more than $100 million, so now, he owns stakes from the UK’s Chelsea soccer team. Additionally, he owns stakes in Norilsk Nickel and Evraz, a steel and mining company. Apart from making money, Abramovich knows how to spend them. When he was a governor and chairman of the Chukotka region Duma from 2001 to 2013, he spent there $2.5 billion. And, luckily for his ex-wife, he transferred her over $90 million worth of New York property.
2 Viktor Vekselberg – $18.4 Billion
Vekselberg is a Ukrainian-born businessman that became rich by selling scrap copper from worn-out cables. Then, after buying bauxite mines and aluminum smelters in 1996, he united them into one company – Sual Holding. Later, Vekselberg merged it with Rusal, a Russian Aluminium company owned by another billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, which led to the emergence of UC (United Company) Rusal. And, as he’s friends with Putin, he, along with Gennady Timchenko and the other six Russian billionaires, faced US sanctions.
1 Andrey Melnichenko – $17.3 Billion
Melnichenko owns majority stakes in coal energy company SUEK and fertilizer producer Eurochem. He started his path to wealth by conducting a chain of currency exchange booths in the 1990s.
Obviously, the list of Russian Oligarchs is way more extensive. Yet, most of them are from affluent families directly related to the Communist party in the Soviet period. Favoritism is familiar in the post-Soviet society, and the fact that these billionaires had an opportunity to get more money than they had proves it.
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Sources: Richest Russian, Business Insider, Forbes
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