A sanctioned Russian tycoon has become a trustee of the Gorbachev Foundation, an organization founded by the last leader of the Soviet Union to support social, economic and political studies.
(Bloomberg) — A sanctioned Russian tycoon has become a trustee of the Gorbachev Foundation, an organization founded by the last leader of the Soviet Union to support social, economic and political studies.
Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko joined the board of trustees, but there is no discussion about the billionaire providing financial support to the foundation, the organization’s spokesman said by phone, without elaborating.
Mikhail Gorbachev set up the foundation in December 1991 as the Soviet Union fell apart and was its president until his death a year ago. The foundation presents itself as one of the first independent think tanks in modern Russia. It seeks “to contribute to the promotion of democratic values, and moral and humanist principles in the development of society,” according to its website.
As Soviet leader, Gorbachev pushed for radical changes to the country’s economy and society. His overhaul, known as perestroika, and policy of openness, or glasnost, unleashed a political avalanche that brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ended Soviet rule two years later.
Melnichenko, 51, is the founder of Russia’s biggest steam coal miner Suek JSC and fertilizer-maker EuroChem Group AG. Worth an estimated $14 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Melnichenko was sanctioned by the US, European Union and UK in the wake of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
The tycoon, who also has a United Arab Emirates passport, was recently the target of a lawsuit from Russian prosecutors linked to the sale of an energy asset five years ago. It comes as President Vladimir Putin increases pressure on the wealthiest citizens to repatriate their assets from abroad.
Melnichenko’s press team declined to comment for the story.
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