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Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) and Roman Rotenberg (left) pose for a selfie after a gala ice hockey match in Sochi in 2016. SKA St. Petersburg's president, Gennady Timchenko, is third from the left.

The son of a Russian billionaire close to President Vladimir Putin has landed the head coaching job at one of the country’s top ice hockey teams despite little, if any, experience.

Roman Rotenberg, who has never served as a coach or played the game professionally, was named to the top post at SKA St. Petersburg, one of the premium teams in the largely Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Roman Rotenberg is the son of Boris Rotenberg, one of Russia’s richest businessmen and a childhood friend of Putin. He was sanctioned along with other members of Russia’s inner circle by the EU and the United States in 2014 after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

Owned by the Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, SKA is one of the KHL’s wealthiest teams. SKA’s president is Gennady Timchenko, another Russian tycoon with ties to Putin.

In a statement posted to its website on January 4, SKA described Rotenberg’s appointment as “improving staff management.”

The man he replaced, Valery Bragin, will remain at SKA in another role.

Roman Rotenberg has never played or coached professional ice hockey. In 2019, he did receive a coaching license from a state-run university in Siberia.

Last September, the 40-year-old told the sports channel Match TV that he’d watched 800 hockey games since 2014 and considers this to be “serious experience.”

Roman Rotenberg also serves as the vice president of Russia’s Ice Hockey Federation, where his uncle Arkady Rotenberg chairs the board of directors.

With reporting by Meduza
Workers wearing heatproof overalls pour molten gold from a crucible into molds in a workshop at the Kumtor gold mine in the Tien Shan mountains, some 350 kilometers southeast of the capital, Bishkek.

BISHKEK -- Centerra Gold has confirmed it was in talks with Kyrgyzstan’s government about an out-of-court settlement over a dispute related to the Canadian company's Kumtor gold mine.

The mine has been at the center of financial and environmental disagreements for years and is currently the subject of an ongoing battle for control between the Kyrgyz state and Centerra.

In a statement on January 3, Centerra laid out a framework for any resolution of the dispute, saying it should receive approximately 26.1 percent of its common stock held by the state-owned company Kyrgyzaltyn.

Among other things, it said the Kyrgyz state should also assume "all responsibility" for Centerra’s two Kyrgyz subsidiaries, as well as the Kumtor mine.

The previous day, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov said that "good progress has been made in the negotiation process" with Centerra.

“The parties are finalizing the discussion of an amicable agreement, including...the condition for the full transfer of the Kumtor Gold Company to the Kyrgyz Republic," he said.

Last year, Centerra kicked off arbitration against the Central Asian country after it took over the country's biggest mine in May for allegedly endangering human lives, the environment, and causing other significant damage -- which the company denies.

Many Kyrgyz lawmakers have expressed concern about an alleged lack of transparency at Kumtor since the Kyrgyz government took control of the gold mine.

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