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A tycoon explores limits of resistance in Russia
WSJ ^ | October 06, 2005 | Gregory L. White

Posted on 10/07/2005 3:32:58 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

MOSCOW -- Two have fled the country. Another is in jail, his oil empire in ruins. Russian President Vladimir Putin has largely succeeded in his campaign pledge to make oligarchs -- the powerful tycoons who emerged in the chaos of post-Soviet Russia -- disappear "as a class."

Now, most of the country's super-rich are either packing up or hunkering down and trying to stay on the government's good side.

Except Mikhail Fridman. Using bare-knuckles business tactics, the 41-year-old built an $8 billion empire spanning oil, telecoms, banking and retail. Now, he's picking a fight with Leonid Reiman, Russia's telecommunications minister and a longtime Putin friend.

Last fall, lawyers for units of Mr. Fridman's Alfa Group lined up Anthony Georgiou, a former Reiman partner, to provide testimony to a British Virgin Islands court that he'd paid over $1 million in bribes to Mr. Reiman. He testified that the payments happened when the future minister was a top executive at a Russian state phone company in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. Based in part on allegations raised in the case, German prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether Western banks facilitated any criminal activity.

Mr. Reiman has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and late last year accused Alfa of smearing him to prevail in a business dispute. "Alfa, because it's an old oligarchic structure, is trying to use the traditional means by which they've resolved conflicts many times over many years -- by putting pressure on officials," Mr. Reiman told reporters.

(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: 200510; alfagroup; anthonygeorgiou; fridman; georgiou; germany; leonidreiman; michaelfridman; mikhailfridman; oil; oligarchs; putin; reiman; russia; telecoms; virginislands

1 posted on 10/07/2005 3:32:59 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Old Mikhail's income tax papers had better be in order. Or he'll be turning big rocks into smaller rocks in Siberia before long.


2 posted on 10/07/2005 4:22:24 PM PDT by Altair333 (Stop illegal immigration: George Allen in 2008)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Now, most of the country's super-rich are either packing up or hunkering down and trying to stay on the government's good side. ==

Russian proverb says: "Black dog cann't be washed to white". All olgarkhs has to go to prison sonner or later.
No such thing as "good" oligarkh.


3 posted on 10/08/2005 3:14:01 AM PDT by RusIvan
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