The little village of Yeruda, nearly 750 kilometers from Krasnoyarsk, has a new resident. Russia’s richest man, oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, the sole owner of the Oneksim group of companies, has been officially registered in this village of 2,300 people.
As a result, Prokhorov will be paying his considerable personal profit taxes – estimated by polit.ru as 16 billion rubles ($515 million) this year -- into the regional budget. The 44-year-old bachelor is worth an estimated $14.1 billion, according to “Finans” magazine in February.
The billionaire’s contribution to the Krasnoyarsk krai budget should be enough nearly to cover half of the resource-rich region’s current budget deficit. Hopefully some of the money will trickle back down to Yeruda, which is noted mostly for being largely inaccessible most of the year because of a lack of paved roads (note to Prokhorov: bring your helicopter).
“Nezavisimaya gazeta” reported that it is hoped Prokhorov’s action will set an example for Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Khloponin. Khloponin, a former CEO of Norilsk Nickel who is close to Prokhorov, is one of Russia’s richest governors, reporting a 2008 income of 635 million rubles in his recently filed assets declaration. His wife reported an income of 147 million rubles. Between them, they declared five luxury automobiles and considerable real estate, including parcels in Italy. Khloponin, though, is registered in Moscow.
While the move makes for good PR, Prokhorov doesn't particularly need any these days. “Vedomosti” might be on to the real reasoning behind the oligarch's gesture: “Of course, none of this could have happened without a request from the region, said one businessman who knows Prokhorov and the regional administration. It would be interesting to know what Prokhorov asked for in exchange.”
-- Robert Coalson