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    Russia rolls back five years on Forbes list

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    MOSCOW. (Anatoly Gorev for RIA Novosti) - The 23rd annual rating of the American Forbes magazine was disappointing for Russian billionaires. In one year, the number of the wealthiest Russians on the Forbes list went down from 87 to 32.

    Moscow relinquished to New York the title of the city with the most billionaires, which the Russian capital won only a year ago when oil prices reached their peak and investors were confident that U.S. financial turmoil would only slightly affect Russia, if at all.

    Now, everyone knows that these hopes did not materialize. Now Moscow ranks third in the number of billionaires after the usual leaders - New York and London. Ironically, this was a repeat of what happened five years ago when Russia was among the top three for the first time.

    The "sad stories" of individual billionaires show the depth of their downfall. Russia's wealthiest man Oleg Deripaska dropped to 164th place, falling 155 spots, which is not surprising considering that early last year Forbes estimated his wealth at $28 billion. In other words, Forbes experts believe that Russian's aluminum king has lost 88% of his wealth in one year.

    Now Forbes considers Mikhail Prokhorov, with a fortune of $9.5 billion, to be the richest man. The owner of Chelsea Football Club in England almost made it to the Top 50. In experts' estimates, he occupies an honorable 51st place with a capital of $8.5 billion. LUKoil co-owner Vagit Alekperov is slightly behind with $7.8 billion (57th place).

    Why have Russian billionaires lost so much? Experts do not blame this wholly on a drop in oil prices and a decline in the demand for other traditional Russian exports, primarily metals. Securities and relatively cheap long-term Western loans have played a fatal role in the lives of many billionaires who were knocked off the Forbes list. Securities have lost most of their value, while loans have turned into a real trap.

    Why have Russian billionaires been hit the hardest? The fall of the global stock exchange and the loan problem are equally bad for all of the names on the Forbes list. Analysts believe that Russians suffered the most because their fortunes had grown too fast. Many of their American and European counterparts are rich in the second or third generation. Some of them have survived more than one powerful economic crisis. Conversely, Russian "young" billionaires are used to go from one victory to another. For this reason, the crisis has proved to be too much of an ordeal for them.

    However, every cloud has a silver lining. Forbes experts noted that despite the sustained losses, Russia is still quite attractive for investors. In other words, there is hope that the number of Russian billionaires on the Forbes list will grow again as the crisis is being overcome.

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

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