All the president’s men? Six oligarchs alleged to have helped keep Vladimir Putin in power
Powerful Russians who are being targeted following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain
THE list of six oligarchs alleged to have helped prop up the Putin regime, drawn up by British intelligence services and submitted to Theresa May, marks a new phase in this modern cold war with Russia.
After expelling Russian diplomats from Britain, in the process dismantling the Kremlin’s spy network in this country, the intelligence services are now going after the oligarchs. The plan is to disrupt their movements and business activities both in the UK and among allies in Europe and the US.
He came to prominence when he bought Chelsea Football Club for £140 million in 2003, transforming the London team into one of the world’s biggest clubs, winning the Champions League and the Premier league.
The 52-year-old made his money (he is said to be worth £9.3billion) trading in oil and gas after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is said to have helped Vladimir Putin win the Russian presidency, while wielding significant political power in the Kremlin. He reportedly owns three homes in London and was instrumental in winning Russia’s World Cup bid. He was governor of the autonomous region of Chukotka until 2008. When his UK visa expired, the Government delayed renewing it. He took up Israeli citizenship to circumvent the visa block though it’s unclear when he last visited the UK. His sources insist he is not part of Putin’s inner circle.
Aged 50 and worth about £5billion, Mr Deripaska first hit the headlines in Britain in 2008 over a controversial meeting in Corfu with George Osborne and Peter Mandelson on his superyacht.
His US visa was revoked in 2006 over his alleged links to organised crime, links he has always rebutted.
Last year the US Treasury announced sanctions against him, accusing him of “acting on behalf of a senior figure in the Russian government” in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.
Mr Deripaska holds regular meetings with Putin, invested heavily in Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and has said his own interests are indivisible from the state’s. Deripaska owns London-based EN+, an energy firm chaired by Tory peer Lord Barker of Battle. It is reportedly under investigation by US Congress for links to Russia’s intelligence agencies.
Arkady and Boris Rotenberg
The Rotenberg brothers are often described as bankers to Mr Putin’s inner circle. They are co-owners of the Stroygazmontazh group, the largest pipeline company in Russia. Arkady Rotenberg has known Putin since he was 12, when the pair joined the same martial arts club in St Petersburg. Arkady, 66, worth £2billion, was Putin’s judo sparring partner.
The brothers are subject to sanctions from the EU and US over activities linked to the Russian annexation of Crimea. The EU said Arkady had been “favoured by Russian decision makers in the award of important contracts by the Russian state”.
Boris Rotenberg, 61, another judo expert, was involved in a number of projects for the Sochi winter Olympics.
Arkady has owned property in London and in Surrey, where his ex-wife lives. He fought unsuccessfully in the British courts to keep details of their divorce secret. included trips to Royal Ascot, on social media.
The chief executive of oil giant Rosneft has been called Russia’s Darth Vader and is widely considered the country’s second most powerful man. A former KGB official, he is thought to be the mastermind of Moscow’s energy strategy. Once Putin’s secretary, he occupies a place in the inner circle. In 2014 he was blacklisted by the US Treasury over his close links to Putin. His power-base is the state-controlled Rosneft, which he has led since 2004 and built into one of the world’s largest oil companies. The Economist said Mr Sechin “epitomises Russia’s nexus between political power and property”.
Rosneft is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is 20 per cent owned by BP, whose CEO reportedly sits on a board chaired by Sechin.
Alisher Usmanov made his £9.6billion fortune in metals, mining and telecoms. He was part-owner of Arsenal FC until he agreed to sell his £550million stake earlier this year. Last year he won a libel case against a Putin critic who accused him of bribing Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister. He released an angry video ending with the words: “I spit on you” aimed at Alexei Navalny, Mr Putin’s arch critic, who had made the claims.
Sources close to Mr Usmanov, who was born in Uzbekistan, insist he has no political affiliations and is simply a businessman.
He owns property in the UK but sources say he has no business interests here. Reports describe him as a close friend of the Russian president.
The plan is to disrupt their movements and business activities in the UK and among allies
Abramovich managed to circumvent the visa block though it’s unclear when he last visited here
Alisher Usmanov and Vladimir Putin
Boris Rotenberg and his wife Karina