Roman Abramovich’s dream of slipping off the gubernatorial shackles has finally come true.
The Kremlin reported today President Dmitriy Medvedev has granted Abramovich’s request to resign from his post as governor of Chukotka. Medvedev reached the decision after receiving a written request from Abramovich. Deputy Governor of Chukotka Roman Kopin was appointed acting head of the region. Abramovich’s Press Secretary John Mann confirmed the information to KP.
Abramovich’s resignation was hardly a sensation in political circles. It was commonly known that Abramovich appealed to former President Vladimir Putin on numerous occasions with a similar request. In late 2006, news about the his intention first shook the Chukotka population, which considers Abramovich almost a “white shaman.”
The billionaire oligarch Abramovich has resided in Moscow and London in recent years. He was estimated by Forbes magazine as the 15th richest person in the world with a net worth $23.5 billion. He is best known as the owner of the private investment firm Millhouse Capital and Chelsea Football Club in London.
Abramovich’s romance with Chukotka began in 1999. The oligarch was elected as the region’s state deputy. A year late, he became the governor and registered his Sibneft subsidiaries in the region. Today, they account for 80 percent of Chukotka’s budget.
“I think they’ll declare a regional mourning,” economist and political scientist Yulia Latynina said about his resignation. “But Abramovich is probably sighing in relief. He spent an enormous amount of money on Chukotka. He built everything in the region from the airport to hotels and hospitals. He was kind of praying for the forgiveness of his sins in the region. It’s just like the Russian trader who stole something and then lit a candle in church. Chukotka was Abramovich’s personal candle. And minimizing Sibneft’s taxes was just incidental.”
“Abramovich isn’t going anywhere,” said Mikhail Leontev, editor of Profile magazine. “His main work is being Abramovich. Lately he hasn’t been personally involved in managing the region anyway. The infrastructure there was built long ago. His people are in place and I think it’s unlikely anything will change. If the taxes from Abramovich’s companies keep passing through the Chukotka budget then everything will be fine in the region just as before.”
Roman Abramovich — An oligarch’s fate
Roman Arkadevich Abramovich was born Oct. 24, 1966 in Saratov. His mother Irina Vasilevna was a musician and his father worked as a supplier at a construction trust in Syktyvkar.
Abramovich became an orphan at a young age. Both his parents died within two years — first his mother and then his father.
After his parents’ death, his grandmother (on his father side) Tatyana Semenovna took him in.
In 1970, Abramovich and his grandmother moved to Ukhta to live with his father’s brother, Leyb Nakhimovich.
In 1973, Abramovich went to first grade at Ukhta School No. 2.
In 1974, Abramovich and his grandmother moved in with his second uncle Abram Nakhimovich in Moscow. Abramovich studied at School No. 232, which stressed the performing arts. After graduating from school and botching his university studies, he moved to his relatives in Komi.
In 1984, Abramovich went to the army (artillery regiment in Kirach in the Vladimirsk region).
In December 1987, Abramovich married Olga Yurevna Lysova.
In October 1991, Abramovich married a second time to stewardess Irina Vyacheslavovna Maladina.
From 1991-1993, Abramovich was the director of the Moscow firm AVK. The firm handled commercial and intermediary activities, including reselling oil products.
In 1992, Abramovich became the central figure in a criminal case for stealing government property.
What happened: As part of their intermediary activities, AVEKS-Komi sent a train with 55 cisterns of diesel (worth 3.8 million rubles) from the Ukhtinsk Oil Production Factory. Abramovich met the train in Moscow and resent the shipment to the Kaliningrad military base using a fake agreement, but the oil products arrived in Riga.
In June 1992, Abramovich was arrested in Case No. 79067 for the large-scale theft of state property. He actively cooperated with the investigation. The Ukhtinsk Oil Production Factory was compensated for the loss by the diesel’s buyer — the Latvian-U.S. Chikora International. The case was closed.
In 1993, Abramovich founded Mekong. He began selling oil from Noyabrsk. He met Boris Berezovsky.
Together with Berezovsky, the future oligarch founded the offshore company Gibralter-registered Runicom Ltd. and 5 Western European subsidiaries. Abramovich headed the Moscow affiliate of the Swiss firm, Runicom S.A.
In August 1995, Sibneft was created by Boris Yeltsin’s presidential decree. It was rumored that Abramovich was the chief of the organization with Berezovsky promoting the business at higher circles.
In May 1998, Abramovich and Berezovsky had their first conflict. Experts say the reason for the disagreement was Berezovsky’s interest to merge with Yukos. Berezovsky thought he would gain political benefits from the move, while Abramovich insisted on putting business first. He tried to purchase Sibneft from Berezovsky.
The second serious conflict was over Abramovich’s attempt to replace Berezovsky’s figure in the Presidential Administration.
In December 1999, Abramovich won the State Duma elections in the Chukotka Single Member Constituency District No. 223 with 59.78 percent of the votes. He worked in Moscow at the Committee for North and Far East Issues.
In 2000, Abramovich graduated from the Moscow State Judicial Academy. At the year’s end, he won the Chukotka gubernatorial elections with 90 percent of the votes. In January 2001, he gave up his deputy’s mandate to head the region.
Abramovich sent clothes, food and medicine to Chukotka using his own finances ($18 million, he says). Thanks to Abramovich, 3,000 residents had the chance to vacation on the Black Sea.
Abramovich’s idyllic efforts to support the region were interrupted when the General Prosecutor’s Office called him in for an interrogation. A criminal case was launched regarding the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation’s act to privatize Sibneft.
At long last, their conclusion was read — the company had been sold for pennies. The auditors were also surprised why Abramovich had received such enormous tax privileges — twice more than the federal norm. But it turned out everything was legal. The majority of the employees were handicapped.
In late 2000, Abramovich bought the Berezovsky’s controlling share in ORT. In the summer of 2001, he sold the stake to the state-owned Sberbank. He then purchased shares in Aeroflot — part of the Russian-Belarusian company Slavneft. He became one of the world’s richest men estimated at $1.4 billion.
In the summer of 2003, Abramovich bought a bankrupt English football club, Chelsea. He covered the team’s debt his first week on the job, and quickly purchased a number of international stars.
In 2004, UK media became interested in Abramovich. BBC shot a documentary about the Russian oligarch. The publisher Harper Collins Willow released the book, “Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere.”
In 2005 and 2006, Chelsea became England’s football champion for the first time in 50 years.
All these years, Abramovich was buying and selling… He was subject to constant checks and accusations, and forced to make numerous payments and compensation.
In the summer of 2005, Berezovsky announced that he was taking Abramovich to court. He said Abramovich had forced him to sell his shares in Russia at a lower price, threatening the state would seize them if he refused. In 2000-2003, Berezovsky sold 50 percent of Sibneft to Abramovich for $1.3 billion and 49 percent of ORT for $150-170 million. In 2003-2004, he sold 25 percent of Russian Aluminum to Abramovich for approximately $500 million.
In October 2007, Berezovsky tried to hand Abramovich a notice of appointment when he stumbled upon him at a London boutique. Berezovsky extended a folder towards Abramovich, but the latter held his hands behind his back. The documents fell onto the floor. According to British law, a notice of appointment must be handed over in front of witnesses.
Berezovsky says he has the following issues with Abramovich: ORT, Sibneft and Russian Aluminum. He says Abramovich stole his legal business through blackmail and other illegal proceedings. He estimates the financial loss at 5 billion pounds.
In 2005, contrary to rumor, Abramovich didn’t plan to continue his gubernatorial duties a second term. Bu the oligarch was again appointed by parliament to head Chukotka.
In December 2006, Abramovich asked the president to relieve him of his gubernatorial duties. The head of state refused.
What does Abramovich own?
In early 2006, Abramovich was the 11th richest man in the world, and Russia’s richest man worth $18.2 billion. He holds an honorable 2nd place among Britain’s richest men at 10.8 billion pounds.
Boeing 737 and Boeing 767
Yachts (one of the largest, most expensive in the world) “Le Gran Bleu”, “Pelarus” (equipped with a missile system and mini-submarine) and “Project 790.”
Abramovich gave “Le Gran Bleu” away as a gift. But in March 2008, reports surfaced that the oligarch is building what will be the world’s second largest yacht at a German dock.
Abramovich purchased numerous land and homes in London and throughout the world.
In March 2006, Abramovich’s partners registered their investment firm Millhouse Capital in Russia. The firm planned to manage investments in Russian industries. In July 2006, Millhouse purchase 60 percent of the Courier publishing house that specializes the alcohol industry.
On June 13, 2007, it was reported that Millhouse Capital purchased a gold mine in Chukotka and later in the Magadansk region. READ MORE