Putin in Kremlin Alexei Druzhinin/Getty Images

Russia’s Oligarchs-in-Waiting

Through a process of brazen nepotism, Russian President Vladimir Putin has nationalized his country's elites, and consolidated his own power. As the better-known children of Russia’s previous generation of oligarchs have steadily left the country, the offspring of Putin’s cronies have taken their place.

STOCKHOLM – Under President Vladimir Putin, cronyism has replaced Russia’s once-burgeoning capitalism. If Putin lives by any motto, it is this: “To my friends, anything; for my enemies, the law.”

In his 2000 “autobiography,” First Person, Putin reveals what “counts most” to him. “I have a lot of friends,” he tells an interviewer, “but only a few people are really close to me. They have never gone away. They have never betrayed me, and I haven’t betrayed them either.”

Indeed, Putin has helped his friends a great deal. According to Forbes, many of them are billionaires, even without counting what they probably have stashed away in offshore havens. For example, the leaked “Panama Papers” last year revealed that Putin’s childhood friend Sergey Roldugin – a cellist who does not even pretend to be a businessman – has received some $2 billion in state funds.

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