Putin maybe Europe’s ‘richest man’

December 22nd, 2007 - 5:14 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 22 (ANI): Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have acquired enough assets to become Europe’s richest man, a Russian political scientist has claimed.
According to Stanislav Belkovsky, Putin has acquired a multi-billion pound fortune by having controlling stakes in three Russian energy companies, and it could be worth 40 billion dollars, all of it accumulated during his eight years in power with the help of his “network of front-men.”
Putin has a 37 percent controlling stake in Surgutneftegaz, an oil exploration company, a 4.5 percent controlling stake in Gazprom, the state energy giant, and at least a 50 percent controlling stake in Gunvor, a Swiss-based oil trading company, The Telegraph quoted the controversial political scientist as alleging
Claiming that he had received this information from credible Kremlin sources, Belkovsky admitted “he had no documentary evidence.”
“European and U.S. special services have access to these documents, but I don’t,” the daily quoted him, as saying.
Drawing a parallel between Putin, Congo dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Belkovsky said: “Russia under Putin is not a version of modern democracy, but a typical third world kleptocracy.”
Putin’s spokesman, however, has rubbished Belkovsky’s allegations.
“Certainly it has nothing to do with seriousness; it has nothing to do with professionalism. Its just trash,” The Telegraph quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as saying.
Another political scientist, Leonid Radzikhovsky, has claimed that Putin must have made money “in a system of state capitalism and total corruption,” adding, “But the information about this Treasure Island seems a little exaggerated.”
Radzikhovsky went on to say that Belkovsky is known as “a source of confusing information” and it would be difficult to take his words seriously.
“He (Belkovsky) is an adventurer. He may be driven by his own morbid ambitions. He really knows a lot of people in high places, but who is he to know the secrets of the person who has all the possible and impossible ways to hide his secrets?” said Radzikhovsky.
Belkovsky’s allegations about Putin’s money first emerged in a book he published last year. (ANI)

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