Abramovich leaves Chukotka

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator Oleg Mityayev) - On July 3, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accepted the early resignation of Roman Abramovich, the governor of Chukotka, a region in Russia's Far East.

Abramovich, the Russia billionaire owner of Chelsea FC, who governed Chukotka remotely from London, had filed his resignation more than once.

Why did Vladimir Putin refuse to let him go, and why has Dmitry Medvedev granted his request? Nobody can say now. Let's try to at least cover Abramovich's main achievements.

1. He was among Russia's first oligarchs, one of the lucky few who had a one-in-a-million chance to buy a huge part of the disintegrating Soviet industry relatively cheaply, completely in line with the initial accumulation theory formulated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founding fathers of socialism.

2. Next Abramovich used his assets smartly, one of which was the oil company Sibneft. He and Boris Berezovsky bought it from the state for 'only' $100-$200 million and got down to increasing its value. They produced mostly 'easy oil' and did not invest in well repairs or exploration. Abramovich later sold the company to state-controlled energy giant Gazprom for $13 billion. See the difference?

3. Abramovich quickly saw that the era of Boris Yeltsin's all-permissiveness was ending, and so when Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia in 1999-2000, he put himself at the disposal of the new president's team.

4. He helped the government fight his former partner, Berezovsky, who had dared to bite the hand that fed him. Abramovich was instrumental in wresting control over the country's main television channel, ORT (now the First Channel), from Berezovsky. Now the channel belongs fully to the state. Until recently, a stake in the state-controlled TV company belonged to a mysterious company called ORT-KB, which was traced either to Chukotka or Abramovich's offshore companies in Cyprus. Berezovsky has not received a cent from the sale of Sibneft as well.

5. Abramovich was the governor of Chukotka from December 2000 to July 3, 2008. He invested as much as $2 billion in the province, although mainly in cosmetic changes. It is the state that will have to finance the mega-projects that have been discussed for years.

6. He issued grants to young researchers through the Fund of Assistance to Russian Science, a powerful driver of innovative research. He is rich enough to do this.

7. Abramovich allocated a plot of 26 hectares (64 acres) in the Odintsovo district near Moscow for an elite business-school whose council of trustees was chaired by Dmitry Medvedev when he was first deputy prime minister.

8. He used the funds raised from the sale of Sibneft to buy Chelsea FC, yachts and real estate, and also invested in different assets, therefore increasing his wealth. According to Forbes, last year Abramovich increased his wealth by $6.8 billion, to $24.3 billion, becoming 15th on the magazine's 2008 list of the world's richest people and Russia's second-richest man. He would have probably kept top place if not for his charity projects.

9. And lastly, Abramovich is paying the salary of Guus Hiddink, the Dutch football manager he invited to coach Russia's national team. He may have to pay him more after the 2008 European Football Championship, where Russia won third place.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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