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Putin's Doctoral Thesis Director Makes Forbes' Billionaires List

 Forbes estimated Vladimir Litvinenko's assets at $1.5 billion.
Forbes estimated Vladimir Litvinenko's assets at $1.5 billion.

Vladimir Litvinenko, the rector at the St. Petersburg State Mining University who chaired the committee that awarded Russian President Vladimir Putin his doctorate in 1997, has become one of the new members of the Forbes billionaire's list.

In its annual rating of the world’s wealthiest people, released on April 6, Forbes estimated Litvinenko's assets at $1.5 billion.

Forbes said Litvinenko's wealth jumped on the back of a rise in the share price of Moscow-based PhosAgro, a chemical holding company that produces fertilizers and phosphates.

The 65-year-old Litvinenko owns almost 21 percent of the company.

"The company's share prices increased from 2,443 rubles ($31.8) per share (April 6, 2020) to 4,163 rubles ($54,2) per share (April 6, 2021)," Forbes wrote.

Litvinenko, who has been rector at the university since 1994, also led Putin's election campaign in St. Petersburg on three different occasions.

In 2006, researchers at the Brookings Institution in Washington who studied Putin's thesis said they had found that 16 of 20 pages of the thesis's key section had been either copied in full or with minimal changes from a textbook titled Strategic Planning And Public Policy, written by University of Pittsburgh professors David I. Cleland and William R. King in 1979 and translated into Russian in 1982.

Putin's thesis was titled Strategic Planning Of The Reproduction Of The Mineral Resource Base Of A Region Under Conditions Of The Formation Of Market Relations.

In a 2006 interview with the magazine Vlast, Litvinenko said that he had "no doubts" that Putin wrote his thesis himself.

Litvinenko’s daughter, Olga Litvinenko, told RFE/RL in 2018 that her father wrote the thesis for Putin after he became the university's rector with the support of Putin, who was at the St. Petersburg mayor's office at the time.

Putin has never commented publicly on the allegations.