Present and past owners of OAO Bank Rossiya, the only company hit with sanctions for Russia’s takeover of Crimea, include three billionaires, two proteges of a Nobel Laureate and, according to a Spanish prosecutor, one possible mob boss.
When Igor Sechin was working as President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff a decade ago, visitors to his Kremlin office noticed an unusual collection on the bookshelves: row after row of bound volumes containing minutes of Communist Party congresses.
On a frosty Moscow evening in December, Alisher Usmanov is wearing a boyish grin. Russia’s richest man, who rarely smiles in public, has been elected to a second term as president of the International Fencing Federation, which is holding its annual congress in the Russian capital for the first time.
Western leaders may think Vladimir Putin is crazy for threatening to annex Crimea and invade other areas of Ukraine. Most Russians, still bitter about the Soviet Union’s demise more than two decades ago, couldn’t be prouder.