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By John Helmer, Moscow In the research for its profile on Alisher Usmanov, BBC Radio-4 was told by its sources in Russia that claims Usmanov is close to the Kremlin have been invented; and that Usmanov has never been granted a personal audience with President (Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin. The BBC programme was broadcast on […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Alisher Usmanov’s fortune began with a business of making plastic bags when they were in short supply in Moscow in the last days of the USSR. At least, that’s the asset in the self-start, self-made fortune story which reporters for global rich lists have been persuaded to believe about Usmanov. How […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow At the freedom-flush Moscow parties of the 1990s, I was never sure whether Alexander Venediktov (2) was real, or a Vladimir Mamyshev-Monroe (1) impersonation. Mamyshev-Monroe died last month in what is described as a shallow swimming pool in Indonesia. Venediktov is alive, and like Mamyshev-Monroe does his radio turns on Ekho-Moskvy […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow At a physicists’ teaparty, Albert Einstein once asked Niels Bohr whether the two of them should accept that “the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.” Bohr’s reply was that, hard as Einstein might try, so long as the moon was accompanied by noone, Einstein’s proof would be […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If necessity is generally judged to be the mother of invention, crude invention – the fake that is exposed swiftly – is generally the product of desperate mothers. The idea that the Oppenheimer family is keen to buy Alrosa shares, reported by one Moscow business newspaper yesterday and reinforced by another, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow United Company Rusal has been defeated in a brief but powerful ruling by the US Court of Appeals in New York last week. The order by three judges, issued on April 15, quashes a lower-level US court order for discovery of bank and other evidence against shipping companies Rusal used to […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Igor Zyuzin (right) is almost entirely dependent on the Russian government for the solvency of his Mechel steelmaking and coalmining group. With between $9 billion and $10 billion in debt, Zyuzin, who owns 65.49% of Mechel’s shares and controls the company as chairman of its board, is now the steel and […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Announcing its sale of the South African asset, Highveld Steel & Vanadium, to Nemascore, a company created just weeks before, Evraz issued the following announcement: “EVRAZ announces intention to sell its South African steel mill. EVRAZ plc…announces the signing of a non-binding term sheet in respect of the proposed sale of […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow United Company Rusal appears to have been stripping assets from the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon) at the same time as it was creating large loan obligations which the loss-making smelter has little chance of repaying. Public protests got under way at Alscon, which is located at Ikot Abasi, in […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow When Oleg Mukhamedshin, head of investment strategy for United Company Rusal, was in London recently, he complained the stock market isn’t giving Rusal’s share price a fair valuation, taking into account how much profit the non-aluminium line of business – that’s the dividend to be paid to Rusal by Norilsk Nickel […]