The Russian Federation, a vast nation renowned for its abundant natural resources, diverse culture, and complex history, also harbors some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. These entrepreneurs and business magnates have amassed tremendous fortunes through their engagements in various industries such as oil and gas, telecommunications, and finance. Their influence extends far beyond mere economic power, often touching on political and cultural realms.

This document highlights some of Russia’s richest, examining their pathways to success, their current ventures, and the broader impacts of their wealth on both domestic and international stages. Through profiling figures like the biography of Peter Aven, Vagit Alekperov, and Leonid Mikhelson, we gain insight into the intricacies of wealth accumulation in a country marked by rapid economic transitions and geopolitical complexities.

Petr Aven

Petr Aven, born on March 15, 1955, launched his entrepreneurial journey in 1993 by founding FinPA, a company specializing in transactions involving external debts, including those of India, Ghana, and the former USSR’s commercial debt. He holds shares in LetterOne Holdings (L1), with significant stakes in enterprises such as Wintershall DEA (33%), VEON (56.2%), Turkcell (19.8%), Dia, and owns 12.4% of Alfa-Bank.

In February 2022, the European Union imposed sanctions on Aven, followed by the UK in March 2022 and the United States in August 2023. In May 2022, Aven, in collaboration with Mikhail Fridman, filed a lawsuit in the European Court in Luxembourg against the EU Council. In April 2024, the EU Court granted their petitions, annulling the sanctions enacted from February 28, 2022, to March 15, 2023. However, they still face the challenge of contesting the EU Council’s sanction act from March 13, 2023.

Aven and his family own the former villa of Gloria Guinness in Sardinia, which was seized by Italian authorities in March 2022, though they are allowed to reside there. He has amassed the largest collection of early 20th-century Russian paintings in Russia and acquired a building in Riga in 2021, intending to open a museum for its exhibition.

Additionally, Aven actively supports Russian art internationally by funding exhibitions and cultural events, such as the Riga Jurmala festival and productions by Russian directors. He is the largest sponsor of NES and supported the exhibition “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the revolution.

Petr Aven
Petr Aven

Vagit Alekperov

Vagit Alekperov, aged 73 and with a net worth of $28.6 billion, is an alumnus of the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry named after M. Azizbekov. He began his career at “Kogalymneftegaz” and later became the principal shareholder of “Lukoil.” In 2022, Alekperov resigned as president of the company following sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom.

Despite this, in 2023, he received nearly $2 billion in dividends from “Lukoil” and accompanied President Putin to meetings with leaders of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Alekperov owns the Dutch shipyard Heesen Yachts and is an avid collector of antique coins. He founded the Museum of the International Numismatic Club, which houses a collection of approximately 5,000 coins.

Leonid Mikhelson and Family

Leonid Mikhelson, a 68-year-old entrepreneur with a fortune of $27.4 billion, began his business journey in 1987 by leading “Kuibyshevtruboprovodstroy,” which was later transformed into the private joint-stock company “Samara People’s Enterprise Nova” in 1991. His main assets are concentrated in “Novatek” (24.6%) and “Sibur” (30.6%).

Since April 2022, Mikhelson has been under sanctions from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. His partners include long-time friends of Vladimir Putin, Gennady Timchenko, Leonid Simanovsky, and former TAIF group shareholders Albert Shigabutdinov, Rustem Sulteev, and brothers Radik and Ayrat Shaimiev. In October 2021, “Sibur” merged with TAIF, with TAIF shareholders receiving 15% of “Sibur” shares and bonds worth nearly $3 billion.

In November 2023, the US imposed sanctions on the “Arctic LNG” project of “Novatek,” delaying commercial deliveries originally scheduled for January 2024. The V-A-C Foundation, created by Mikhelson, manages the House of Culture “GES-2” in Moscow, a project whose reconstruction cost $470 million. Mikhelson’s daughter, Victoria, after whom the V-A-C Foundation (Victoria — the Art of Being Contemporary) is named, owns 2.3% of “Novatek” shares, the House of Culture “GES-2,” and the “Udarnik” cinema.