Abramovich, the oligarch leaves Israel and takes refuge in Russia

Of Fabrizio Dragosei

Roman Abramovich, an oligarch close to Putin and patron of Chelsea, bought an oil company at the age of 29. Now London’s justice wants to open an investigation into the incident. But the billionaire in the crosshairs of the authorities around the world

the youngest of the Russian oligarchs and also the most prominent. He was just 29 when with a hundred million dollars he became the owner of an oil company overnight, Sibneft which ten years later would have been valued at 18 billion. Becoming the patron of the Chelsea football team made him very famous. Perhaps also for this
Roman Abramovich today in the crosshairs of the authorities around the world.
So much so that yesterday he had to hurriedly leave Israel, where he had taken refuge, to head for Moscow. Safe under the wings of Vladimir Putin but in a kind of golden prison, with the impossibility of reaching his villas and mansions, from London to New York, to Saint Barthelemy, in the Caribbean. Not to mention his yachts, the Eclipse, the Luna or the Solaris which has just reached a provisionally safe port in Montenegro.

And now that in disgrace, London justice seems to want to open a criminal case on that purchase 27 years ago. As if until yesterday nothing had been known about the privatizations that took place in Russia in the nineties, those that have been defined the biggest robbery of the century. The details of how the new rich moved in that period have long been in the history books, only until a few days ago Abramovich, like all of his colleagues, they were seen as hens laying golden eggs not to be allowed to escape far from the City at any cost.

Young Roman (now 55) made his first money like many others in the stormy years of the collapse of the USSR and communism. In the beginning by buying and selling everything, car tires, plastic toys. Then it is said that he had the task of taking care of getting a train loaded with diesel oil tanks to arrive abroad. But that train, it is said, disappeared from circulation.

In 1995 the Russian state was in enormous trouble and the then president, Boris Yeltsin, feared that he would not be re-elected in the presidential elections the following year and that he would have to hand over power to the communists who were making a comeback. The oligarchs, who had already amassed substantial fortunes with the first privatizations, agreed to support Yeltsin with their money and their TVs. In exchange they had the last jewels of the industrial and mining apparatus of the Soviet Union for little money. Tycoon Boris Berezovskij, very familiar with Kremlin affairs, had remained outside, along with his partner Abramovich. So at the last moment, in one night, a state oil company, Sibneft, was created which was auctioned for one hundred million dollars. The two partners won it with a raise of one hundred thousand dollars. Other competitors were not admitted to the auction.

Later, without his partner Berezovsky, the oligarch bought another oil company, Slavneft. A document disclosed by the Bbc he says a Chinese company, CNPC, had offered double. But when the CNPC delegation arrived in Moscow for the auction, one of the leaders was kidnapped. The then Deputy Minister of Energy Vladimir Milov who today in the opposition, explained to the Bbc how things went. I advised my superiors that the Chinese wanted to enter and were offering a much higher sum. They replied: it doesn’t matter, shut up, it’s none of your business. It has already been decided that Slavneft must go to Abramovich. The price has already been set. The Chinese will be excluded in some way. So CNPC agreed to withdraw the offer.

Now a multibillionaire, Abramovich has since devoted himself almost exclusively to the arts, to charity, to women. Of course, he always ready to run when the Kremlin called. Respectful, obsequious and willing to follow orders. Cos from 2001 to 2008 he was governor of the remote Chukotka region, on the specific orders of the Chief. And throughout the period he spent a lot of money on improving the situation of the indigenous population, the Chukchi who make a living by herding reindeer and hunting seals and whales.

Then he returned to his life, between Kensington and Manhattan. Over the years he has amassed three marriages with a total of seven children and a new 25-year-old partner, actress Aleksandra Korendyuk. An art gallery, Garage, opened together with his last wife Dasha Zhukova. And then a lot of charity, especially in favor of Jewish institutions, given that the former Siberian orphan has also acquired Israeli citizenship in recent years.

Thirty million dollars from Tel Aviv University; tens of millions to the Sheba medical center and more than a hundred to an organization that favors new settlements in the occupied territories, the City of David Foundation, according to some sources. Lastly, an agreement with Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial. So in recent days the New York Times revealed that Israeli personalities, along with a chief rabbi, wrote a letter to the American ambassador to Israel asking not to sanction Abramovich. But apparently the appeal does not seem destined to be successful. And in recent days, Yad Vashem has announced that it has suspended all relations with the Russian.


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