Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has carved out an important role on the world stage. With significant changes in the 1990s came privatized agricultural and industrial sectors, and Russia's economy shifted to one that's now globally integrated and market-based. As you'd expect, the number of Russian billionaires has dramatically increased since these reforms first took place, and as of 2011, Moscow, the Russian capital, had more billionaires than any other city in the world. The country is still a major global player, with significant political influence. Russia has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and is one of the five nations that possess an acknowledged store of nuclear weapons. Physically the biggest country in the world, Russia has an abundance of natural resources making it one of the largest producers of gas and oil. In 2008, Russia experienced a recession - the first after ten years of a booming economy. Since then, the economy hasn't been as affected by the global recession as other nations, and the government predicts GDP will rise by 3.4% in the coming years. Moscow remains one of the world's most important financial centers, and attracts thousands of investors every year. Next year, the country's tourism industry will see a boost when Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, located on the Georgian border near the Black Sea. Athletes and visitors from all around the world will descend on the city next February.. But who are the 10 richest people in Russia? We've collated information on the wealthiest Russian citizens to bring you the background on Russia's 10 biggest billionaires.
10 Mikhail Prokhorov - $13 billion
Making his wealth in the metals industry, Prokhorov helped Norilsk Nickel become the largest producer of palladium and nickel in the world. He has also headed Polyus Gold, the biggest gold producer in Russia and later entered politics. In 2011, he announced that he would run as an independent candidate at the 2012 Presidential Election, which was later won by Vladimir Putin. He became leader of Russia's Civic Platform Party a year later. He's perhaps best known to Americans as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, with whom he's made a number of multi-million dollar signings.
9 Gennady Timchenko - $14.1 billion
The 62nd richest person in the world, Gennady Timchenko ranks in ninth place among the World's Richest Russians. He was born in 1952 and acquired his wealth through numerous business investments - and he's the owner of Volga Group, a private investment group which specializes acquiring assets in transport, infrastructure and energy. He is a citizen of both Russia and Finland, and currently lives in Geneva in Switzerland.
8 Vladimir Lisin - $14.1 billion
Vladimir, who is currently the eighth richest Russian in the world, started his career as a welder, before becoming a powerful steel tycoon. He currently holds a number of patents for various metallurgy processes and continues to write about the subject in great detail. His other investments include stakes in the energy and logistics sectors, and controls Fletcher Group Holdings, with stakes in the utility industry, owning assets in companies such as the Distribution Grid Company of Center and the Federal Grid Company.
7 Vladimir Potanin - $14.3 billion
Vladimir Potanin is the Chairman and President of Interros Company, founded by him 1991. Interros hold one third of share in Norilsk Nickel, a nickel company in Russia. He previously worked for the Foreign Trade Ministry and acquired his wealth through loans-for-shares programs in the country. He advocates for good governance in business, and is fluent in both French and English. All this, and he still manages to maintain domestic bliss - he's married and has three children.
6 Andrey Melnichenko - $14.4 billion
Businessman Andrey Melnichenko has numerous assets, including holding over 80% of shares in the Siberian Generating Company, a large electric power company in Siberia. Melnichenko started his prosperous career when he co-founded the MDM bank in 1993, and went on to manage the bank for several years. During this time, he managed to earn a degree as a Finance and Credit major too. This Russian's portfolio is so vast that we can't even begin to report all his financial interests, but they include holding the majority of shares in the Open Joint Stock Siberian Coal Energy Company and the Open Joint-Stock Company EuroChem. He has an estate in Ascot, England, and invited the American singer and actress Jennifer Lopez to perform at the birthday party of his wife in 2007. Melnichenko's fortune reportedly plummeted to $1 billion in 2009 but he seems to have recuperated well, with a current net worth of over $14 billion.
5 Vagit Alekperov - $14.8 billion
Vagit Alekperov played a key role in Langepas Uray Kogalymneft - which later became LUKOIL Oil Company - prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was previously deputy minister of the gas and oil industry of the USSR, and advocated the integration of state-owned energy companies in the country. Alekperov serves as President of LUKOIL, which is one of the most powerful oil companies on the plant with its number of oil reserves second only to Exxon. The company bought out the American company Getty Petroleum in the early 2000s.
4 Viktor Vekselberg - $15.1 billion
Viktor Vekeslberg was born in Ukraine in 1957 and has an estimated wealth of $15.1 billion, making him the fourth richest Russian in the world today. Vekselberg co-owned Tyumen Oil, one of the biggest gas and oil companies in Russia. He later launched Rusal Company, who control Russia's aluminium business. His assets have since been merged into the Renova Group, a business investment company. He is married and has two children. Although he was born to a Jewish father, he does not practice Judaism and is instead a Russian Orthodox.
3 Leonid Mikhelson - $15.4 billion
With an estimated wealth of $15.4 billion, Mikhelson is the third richest Russian. He's the chairman and CEO of the gas company Novatek, one of the largest independent gas producers in the country - the company's considered the second largest gas producer in Russia after the state-owned company Gazprom. Based in Siberia, Novatek also has an office in Moscow. He is the 72nd richest person in the world and was born in Kaspiysk, a city on the Caspian Sea.
2 Milkhail Fridman - $16.5 billion
Once named Business Man of the Year by GQ Magazine, Milkhail Fridman has acquired his wealth by establishing the Alfa Group, one of the largest privately owned investment companies in the world. The company have made investments in the telecommunications, banking and oil industries. Fridman first started out humbly as a ticket scalper, and has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia since 2005. He has been awarded the Golden Plate Award for International Achievement by former American President Bill Clinton.
1 Alisher Usamanov - $17.6 billion
The man who holds the title of Russia's richest man isn't actually Russian by birth - nor does he reside in Russia! Alisher Usamanov, with an estimated wealth of $17.6 billion, was born in Uzbekistan and made his vast fortune from investing in the telecommunications industry and other start-up industries. He started his career in metal, and now owns Metalloinvest, a large iron ore supplier. The company recent acquired Udokan, who produce nickel and copper. He is the 28th richest person in the world, and the richest person living in the UK, where he has a residence in London. He is a shareholder in Arsenal Football Club, and married Irinia Vinner, a gymnastics coach, in 1992.
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