FinancialGuy Writes!

I had always presumed that life for a Russian billionaire must be pretty sweet. You know what I mean – private jets, international homes, super yachts, vast sprawling business empire, obligatory ownership of a football club, wedges of cash and lots of glamorous Russian girls. It all sounds pretty sweet to me!

Obviously there have been some exceptions to this. There was Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his prison sentence. There was also Boris Berezovsky, but his exile was to a lavish life in central London, which still has me thinking that life is pretty sweet. Until, you know, he hung himself.

Recent weeks have made me start to rethink this opinion.

Firstly, as we all know, the US and EU are targeting a number of oligarchs with sanctions. It must be a real drag to have a private jet and not be able to use it. Plus, those banking sanctions – how do you pay for a villa in Mustique if you cannot transfer the money?

But now with the assassination of Boris Nemtsov last week, I think we can presume that the majority of oligarchs must be pretty unhappy and probably quite scared.

(For reference, Mr Nemtsov’s girlfriend was a Ukrainian model 32 years his junior, so I think he had it pretty sweet too…)

Something I have learned over the years is that wealthy and powerful people really want the continuation of the status quo. No changes thank you very much.

They have their business and their lifestyle and protecting the political structure that enables it all is hugely important to them.

But what happens when that political structure starts to ruin their lives and businesses? Something tells me that their power starts to be directed in other paths and the power of the state can be directed at them.

I’m sure that Mr Putin has a long time left in office, but as we have all seen in democracies around the world, when the time comes for a leader, the time comes. Normally, being deposed means a loss of office and retiring to the long grass of one’s memoirs. I’m unconvinced that it means the same thing in Russia…

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