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Putins Former Supervisor Mines a Fortune in Shares

Published: April 6, 2011 (Issue # 1650)



  • Vladimir Litvinenko, rector of the St. Petersburg Mining Institute, is worth an estimated $350 million to $450 million.
    Photo: Vedomosti

Vladimir Litvinenko is awell-connected man.

Therector ofthe St. Petersburg Mining Institute oversaw Vladimir Putins dissertation, which in1996 earned thecurrent prime minister adoctorate ineconomics.

Last year, Litvinenko became chairman ofthe board ofPhosAgro, thecountrys largest producer ofphosphate-based fertilizers.

Now he is amultimillionaire, worth anestimated $350 million to$450 million after aninvestor prospectus filed byPhosAgro last week showed he holds 5 percent ofthe companys shares.

Thefortune is raising eyebrows because Litvinenko, who has headed thestate mining institute since 1994, was not previously known as abusinessman. Litvinenkos apparently rapid rise toriches speaks volumes ina country where who you know can be as important as what you know if not more so.

Litvinenko seems toowe his luck tobeing theright man inthe right place atthe right time.

He is anexpert inthat sector, andhe has direct links with Vladimir Putin what more can you ask for? said Georgy Ivanin, asenior analyst with Alfa Bank.

Asked how Litvinenko became ashareholder, PhosAgro spokesman Timur Belov said bytelephone that thecompany has apolicy ofnot commenting onits shareholders beyond what is published officially.

Themining institute did not reply towritten questions sent toLitvinenkos office last week. One ofhis aides, who identified himself only byhis first name andpatronymic, Viktor Mikhailovich, said bytelephone that theinstitutes press service would look intothe questions.

Litvinenko has proved his political allegiance toPutin more than once. In2000 and2004, he headed theSt. Petersburg campaign team forPutins election as president.

His role insupervising Putins doctorate has been questioned since 2006, when Clifford Gaddy, ascholar atthe Brookings Institution inWashington, demonstrated that key parts ofthe dissertation, which discusses resources planning inSt. Petersburg andthe neighboring Leningrad Oblast, appeared tohave been plagiarized froma 1978 U.S. business school textbook.

Litvinenko has denied theallegations ofplagiarism, andPutins spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TheSt. Petersburg Times that they were slanderous.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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