Kremlin Capitalism

0 – Russian Car Maker Comes Under Sway Of Old Pal of Putin

As a typical American lean person, you might have challenges at work. But at least you aren't under threat of being nationalized or taken over by the mafia, which seems to be standard operations in Russia these days.

You think having a “finance guy” running your company causes problems? How about this?

Last December, the head of Russia's state arms-trading agency emerged from the shadows as one of the country's most powerful businessmen. Aided by 300 heavily armed police, he took control of Russia's largest auto maker.

His agency had no experience running a car company, nor did it own any shares of this one, OAO Avtovaz, producer of the ubiquitous Lada. But the chief arms trader, Sergei Chemezov, had one invaluable asset: He is an old friend of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Chemezov says he has known Mr. Putin since the two were KGB agents in the 1980s. He acknowledges that his ties give him a leg up in business. “It means we can get a lot of issues resolved fast,” he says.

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