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In today's #vatnik soup I'll introduce a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. He was one of the few people who had close ties to Putin, and he's been described as "Putin's favorite industrialist". Deripaska used to be "among the 2–3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis".
He got rich after the fall of Soviet Union by trading raw materials such as metals. In 2000 he merged his business with Roman Abramovich to create RUSAL, which eventually became the largest aluminum producer in the world (it was surpassed by China Hongqiao Group in 2015).
He was maried to Polina Yumasheva between 2001 and 2018. Yumasheva is the daughter of Boris Yeltsin's top advisor Valentin Yumashev, which put him close to Yeltsin's inner circle, "The Family".
Eventually Deripaska established diversified investment and industrial group Basic Element. The company got several deals for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. These investments totaled to over 1,4 billion USD.
In 2006, Deripaska was denied entry visa to the US, but no reason for this was given. The Wall Street Journal speculated that this could be due to his alleged connections to organized crime in Russia.
In 2021, Russia gave Deripaska diplomatic status, allowing him to enter the US freely. In 2017, Oleg bought a "golden passport" from Cyprus, generating billions of revenue to the country while at the same time gaining Cypriot citizenship.
In 2017 the Associated Press published an article which alleged that Paul Manafort and Deripaska signed an annual 10 million USD deal to promote Russian interests in Europe and in the US. The paper suggested that this deal went as far back as to 2005.
It was also alleged that Manafort provided briefings on political developments to Deripaska via Kyiv-based operative Konstantin Kilimnik. In Feb, 2018, Navalny published a damning video about a meeting between Deripaska and Deputy PM of Russia, Sergei Prikhodko.
Navalny then accused that Deripaska was working as a middle man between the Russian government and Paul Manafort during the 2016 US elections. In Russia, this video was quickly added to the Federal List of Extremist Materials, thus making it illegal in Russia, by ...
... Roskomnadzor, agency responsible for censorship in the country. One of the people shown in the video was Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort. She stated that she has 16 hours of audio recordings on the Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Anastasia stated that the recordings include Deripaska discussing the US election with three Americans, and that she'd release these recordings if she was given an asylum in the States. This never happened, since she was deported to Russia.
She eventually apologized to Deripaska, and he denied having any inmate relationship with Vashukevich. Die Zeit published a dossier in 2022 that accused Deripaska of sexual relations with underage girls in various countries.
In Jan, 2023, the former NYC head of counterintelligence in the FBI, Charles McGonical, was arrested on charges of money laundering and false statements, violating the US sanctions on Russia and allegedly working for Deripaska.
McGonical was charged with conspiring with Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet and Russian diplomat and a US citizen, to provide services to Deripaska. They allegedly investigated a rival Russian oligarch and received concealed payments from Deripaska through shell companies.
Oleg has been critical of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On 27th Feb, 2022, he posted calls for peace and negotiations and the next day he commented on the sanctions that "unlike 2014, it will not be possible to sit this out now".
He also said that the war would bring "200 years of damnation to Russia". Oleg has said that the sanctions are more harmful for Russia than to the West: "The debt markets are closed, the capital markets are closed, foreign owners are expropriated; it is a major upheaval."
Oleg was sanctioned by the US in Apr, 2018, by the UK in Feb, 2022, by Australia in Mar, 2022 and by the EU in Apr, 2022. In Sep, 2022, he was accused of sanctions evations in the US. He was allegedly assisted by two women: ...
... Olga Shriki, operating in the US, and Natalia Bardakova, directing Shriki from Russia. Also, Graham Bonham-Carter, the vice chairman of a British fund management group Jupiter Fund Management, was charged for helping Deripaska to avoid the sanctions.
Swedish government tried to persuade the US in 2018-2019 to ease their sanctions on Deripaska because his businesses were employing so many people in Sweden. This campaign included letters to Mike Pompeo and multiple visits to Washington DC.