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Getting to Know Vladimir Lisin

Last week when Finans magazine released their Forbesian list of the most wealthy Russian businessmen, readers were quite surprised to see that the #1 slot was taken not by Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Prokhorov, or Roman Abramovich (whom I think should only be considered under such a list in the UK), but rather Vladimir Lisin with a net worth of $18.8 billion.  My first question:  who the hell is Vladimir Lisin?  I would have been less surprised to see someone like Igor Sechin take the spot.  Over on one of the WSJ blogs, Robert Frank digs up what he can about Lisin, and when that fails, at least we are treated to the term “blingshevik.”

Not much is known about Mr. Lisin who, unlike his flashier Blingshevik compatriots, has avoided buying the world’s largest yachts or sports teams. His name means “Fox” in Russian and the 54-year-old has proven especially cunning in climbing his way up the Russian political and financial ladder.

According to the Reuters article linked to above, he graduated froma Siberian steel institute and managed steels plants in the 1980s. Helater teamed up with the Cherney brothers, Mikhail and Lev, whose TWGmetal-trading firm rose to power under Boris Yeltsin. Mr. Lisin usedhis capital and political ties to venture out on his own to gaincontrol of metal assets.

Mr. Lisin likes Cuban cigars, and he is an avid hunter, oftenpictured with a shotgun. Married with three children, he built one ofRussia’s biggest clay pigeon shooting centers. He has hosted VladimirPutin and other top pols at his private compound, known as “The Fox’sDen.”