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The Oligarch, His Ex-Wife, Her Mother, and Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, America’s premier purveyor of conspiracy theories, is planning his fifth wedding. His bride-to-be, Elena Zhukova, the ex-wife of one Russian oligarch and the former mother-in-law of another, is a choice that suggests a match made in Hollywood.

NEW YORK – Russia has little trouble making headlines, and March was no exception. First, tens of thousands of Russians turned out to mourn opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic penal colony last month. Then, many Russians lined up to vote against Vladimir Putin in the recent presidential election in a coordinated protest, so that no one could mistake for the truth the Kremlin’s inevitable declaration that Putin had won his fifth six-year term in a landslide. Finally, a horrifying terrorist attack on a concert venue outside of Moscow – attributed to the ISIS-K branch of the Islamic State – killed 143 people and wounded more than 300.

Were it not for so many tragedies, another kind of Russia-related story might have received far more attention. The 93-year-old media mogul Rupert Murdoch – who owns Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal in the United States, and The Times in the United Kingdom – is engaged to a Soviet-born molecular biologist 25 years his junior, Elena Zhukova.

Murdoch apparently met his bride-to-be through one of her four predecessors, his third wife Wendi Deng, who is a friend of Zhukova’s daughter, Dasha. Deng was born in China, prompting a New York Times journalist to quip to me, “The tycoon is just moving from one authoritarian-born wife to another.” He was suggesting that Murdoch may well have a type: “people who think we should all just make money (and sleep together) and not let things like democracy or equality get in the way.”