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By John Helmer, Moscow In the research for its profile on Alisher Usmanov, BBC Radio-4 was told by its sources in Russia that claims Usmanov is close to the Kremlin have been invented; and that Usmanov has never been granted a personal audience with President (Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin. The BBC programme was broadcast on […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Alisher Usmanov’s fortune began with a business of making plastic bags when they were in short supply in Moscow in the last days of the USSR. At least, that’s the asset in the self-start, self-made fortune story which reporters for global rich lists have been persuaded to believe about Usmanov. How […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow From small seeds, big truths can be cultivated, pressed, packaged, and retailed profitably. Lies, too. The elder daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova, was so named because in the Uzbek language Gulnara signifies the flower of the pomegranate. The Persians say the same thing. Last week, after months of […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Interpol publishes the names of less than a third of the people identified by Red Notices as wanted for arrest. That’s so fugitives can’t know the risks of apprehension they run when they try crossing international borders. The Red Notice for Bekhzod Akhmedov has been published because the authorities in Tashkent, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Lars Nyberg (right), chief executive until Friday afternoon of TeliaSonera, the Swedish and Finnish telecommunications group, is something of an expert on the blowback effect. Firearms and forensics experts understand that blowback is what happens after a gunshot, when the vacuum inside the gun barrel draws in blood and tissue from […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow You don’t have to be a commercial rival of Ziyavudin Magomedov to notice that the billion-dollar business ventures he promises to deliver often fail to materialize. There was his claim, for example, that with his control stake of the United Grain Company (OZK is the Russian acronym), he intended to bid […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The old oligarchs, and several new aspirants, have a new playground in the Russian transportation sector, where their profits are guaranteed by the state budget. Carrying cargo from mine and wellhead to plant and port, and back again from port to market, is already profitable in conventional terms, and so the […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It has taken Alexei Mordashov (image lower right) three and a half years to persuade shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG) to accept his takeover of the company. That’s the longest foreign defence against a Russian takeover in the oligarch record-book. But when the count was completed on December 11, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Not even the two people usually familiar with the matter were able to convince Bloomberg that there has been genuine demand in the London market for Megafon shares at Alisher Usmanov’s asking price. Instead, as the company and its underwriters tried to sign buyers before the subscription book closed this afternoon, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The November 15 announcement by Megafon, the telephone property of Alisher Usmanov and Andrei Skoch, reveals a discount on last month’s valuation targets of up to 20%, depending on how the assets for sale are counted. To attract buyers for shares at bargain-basement prices, the company is promising to pay out […]