According to a new report, out of the 200 richest men in Russia today almost a quarter are Jewish. (Combined worth: $123 billion). This is all the more remarkable in that Russian Jews today form a very small proportion of Russia’s total population, a mere 0.16 percent (281,000). This is down from a historic high of 5,250,000 in 1914. (LD)
. . . by Itamar Eichner
Close to one quarter of the 200 richest people in Russia are Jewish, according to a report by Russian banking website lanta.ru, which gives the 48 Jews on the list a combined net worth of $132.9 billion.
The report also analyzed the nationality of each of the 200 billionaires, finding that just 89 — less than half — were ethnic Russians, even though they make up 81% percent of the population in Russia.
Alex Tenzer, a prominent activist in the Russian Jewish community, warned that the publication of the list was dangerous, and could fan the flames of xenophobia. He highlighted the fact that Russia has recently seen its first downturn in the quality of living in five years, as a result of the economic sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.
“The ruble has decreased 20% compared to the dollar, and after a long term there is a decrease in Putin’s popularity,” said Tenzer. “I’m concerned this could lead to a hatred of foreigners in Russia. If you sum up the Russian elite, you can say that most of the funds and most of the wealth in Russia belongs to a population of people who are not Russian, and this is a real danger, especially now,” Tenzer said.
Twenty-two different ethnicities comprised the list, with the Jewish representation being especially prominent. Compared to their general population size, the Jews are the most economically successful group.
The Jews on the list were classified into two groups: Ashkenazis, who originate from central and eastern Europe, and Kavkazis, descendants of Persian Jews from Iran.
Among the 48 Jews who made the list, 42 are Ashkenazi and together have a net worth of $122.3 billion; the average net worth of each Ashkenazi billionaire stands at $2.9 billion.
The wealthiest Ashkenazi is Mikhail Fridman, who has a net worth is $17.6 billion and is Russa’s second richest man. The least wealthy Ashkenazi billionaire on the list was not named, and his net worth stands at $0.4 billion.
Jewish Ashkenazis represent 21% of all the billionaires in Russia, even though they comprise only 0.11% of the population. The Ashkenazi billionaires include Viktor Vekselberg (net worth of $17.2 billion), Leonid Michelson (net worth of $15.6 billion), German Khan (net worth of $11.3 billion), Mikhail Prokhorov (net worth of $10.9 billion), and Roman Abramovich (net worth of $9.1 billion).
Six Kavkazi Jews appear on the list, with a combined net worth of $10.6 billion, and an average individual net worth of $1.8 billion. The richest Kavkazi Jew has a net worth of $3.6 billion, and the least wealthy $0.5 billion.
According to the Russian Bureau of Statistics, there are 762 Russian citizens classified as Kavkazi Jews and they represent 0.00035% percent of the population. Compared to the overall population, the Kavkazi Jews of Russia are the wealthiest ethnic group in the entire country.
The net worth of the remaining people on the list stands at $165 billion. The list is comprised of 24 Ukrainians, 8 Tatars, 7 Armenians, 3 of local origin, 3 from Ingushetia, 2 Uzbeks, and a handful of other nationalities.
The publication of the list erupted outrage in Russia and received criticism from news editors and human rights organizations who claimed that this is the first time that the list of the wealthiest Russians is composed of a majority of non-native citizens and points to the fact that most of the country’s wealth is in the hands of “foreigners”.
Journalist Nikolai Svanidze, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, a consultant for the office of President Vladimir Putin, said in response that the list is a “Nazi report” and that the ethnicities of the wealthiest members of Russian society should not be published, as it is “subject to cause issues.”