Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jewish superiority


The London Sunday Times


November 5, 2003


Russia: hapless victim in heist of the century

In the convulsive aftermath of perestroika, seven cunning men seized economic power


As it turns out, six out of seven of Russia’s wealthiest and, at least until recently, most powerful oligarchs are Jewish. The six Jewish businessmen most frequently called oligarchs are: Roman Abramovich; Pyotr Aven; Boris Berezovsky; Mikhail Fridman; Vladimir Gusinsky; and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The seventh oligarch, the only “full-blooded ethnic Russian”, is Vladimir Potanin.
The height of their influence was reached in 1996 when the Yeltsin Government hung on the verge of political and financial collapse. Already wealthy, the oligarchs collectively put forth the so-called “loans-for-shares” deal — now notorious, but at the time grudgingly endorsed by Western advisers and Russian economists.
Essentially, the oligarchs offered loans and political support to the Government in exchange for majority shares, at a fraction of their potential market value, in the behemoths of the Russian economy, a half-dozen massive enterprises breathtakingly rich in nickel, gold and oil deposits.
Despite the inevitable rumours, these men did not become billionaires through violence or mafiya tactics. Rather, they became billionaires by playing the game more effectively and ruthlessly than anybody else during Russia’s free-for-all transition to capitalism.
Russia’s incipient corporate economy operated in practically a legal vacuum at the time, with no laws prohibiting insider trading or other forms of self-dealing. “Russia has been looted all right,” says Chrystia Freeland, in Sale of the Century, “but the biggest crimes haven’t been clandestine or violent or even, in the strict legal sense, crimes at all. Russia was robbed in broad daylight, by businessmen who broke no laws, assisted by the West ’s best friends in the Kremlin.”....
Khodorkovsky had an advantage over his fellow Jewish oligarchs: he had served in the Communist Youth League and enjoyed the patronage of senior Soviet-era officials. In the late 1980s, when Khodorkovsky ventured into private business with the establishment of Menatep Bank, he had the support and protection of the communist regime.
After 1990, Khodorkovsky served as economic adviser to the Prime Minister. In the early Nineties, Menatep went on a “mass privatisation shopping spree” in which it bought everything from a titanium-magnesium plant to glass and textile factories to food-processing companies.
In 1996, Khodorkovsky emerged from the loans-for-shares deal as the powerful chairman of Yukos, Russia’s second largest oil company, with $170 billion in oil reserves. In addition to Yukos, Khodorkovsky today controls massive mineral and timber interests. In 2002, Forbes named him the richest man in Russia...
[Update: Putin has turned on the Oligarchs.  Two are in exile and Khodorkovsky after being jailed in 2003 was convicted last month of fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 17 years in prison]
For one reason or another, in Russia’s nearly anarchic transition to a market economy, Jews rose to the top. Long before most Russians, including the country’s leaders, had any understanding of how markets work, the six Jewish oligarchs mastered the game. These men started with next to nothing. They were not particularly sophisticated. They may have been ruthless, but they were plainly smart entrepreneurs.

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