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Russian Oligarchs

Russian oligarchs are in the news – for a “haircut” in Cyprus, a death in London, billions all over.  We check in on the post-Soviet robber barons.

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, second from left, talks to a reporter after losing his case against Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich as he leaves the High Court in London, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP)

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, second from left, talks to a reporter after losing his case against Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich as he leaves the High Court in London, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP)

Russian billions and Russian oligarchs big in the news this week. In Cyprus, an astounding portion of the country’s bank deposits laid before the world as Russian stash. Off-shore gravy. In London, one of the once-biggest and most outspoken Russian oligarchs in exile found dead. Seems to have hung himself.

Russia’s oligarchs sprang from the snatch and grab free-for-all at the end of the Soviet Union. Now we’re into a second generation. Living large. Billions flowing around the world.

This hour, On Point: Russia’s oligarchs. Their money, their influence, their impact, in Russia and beyond.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Andrew Kramer, Moscow correspondent for the New York Times. (@andrewkramernyt)

Matthew Rojansky, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (@matthewrojansky)

Mark Hollingsworth, author of “Londongrad: From Russia with Cash;The Inside Story of the Oligarchs.”

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN “The colorful Boris Berezovsky, who died in unexplained circumstances over the weekend at a country estate south of London, was one of the Russian oligarchs who made fortunes following the breakup of the former USSR. But by the time of his death the 67-year-old was reportedly in financial difficulties after he was ordered to pay a massive divorce settlement to his ex-wife as well as legal costs following the loss of a $6.5 billion lawsuit against fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich last year.”

Reuters “If Russian oligarchs still have money in Cyprus, where a lot of them base their businesses, they aren’t letting on. ‘You must be out of your mind!’ snapped tycoon Igor Zyuzin, main owner of New York-listed coal-to-steel group Mechel, as he dismissed a suggestion this week that the financial meltdown in Cyprus posed a risk to his interests.”

Businessweek “On Feb. 22, Mikhail Prokhorov, co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets and one of Russia’s richest men, sold his 37.8 percent stake in Polyus Gold International (PGIL), the country’s top gold producer. Earlier this year billionaire Sergey Popov dumped his remaining stake in coal miner Suek. In January, Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg said he won’t invest his share of the sale ofTNK-BP (TNBP) in natural resources.”

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