Is Putin Europe's Richest Man?

Kremlin power struggle reveals fortune of 'at least' $40B
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2007 9:17 AM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting of the State Council in the Kremlin in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Alexander...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The Guardian looks at an unprecedented power struggle within the Kremlin as Vladimir Putin's last term as president winds down. The battle, between ex-KGB officers and liberal allies of Putin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev, revolves around control of the enormous assets of Russia's state-owned industries. As the face-off heats up, information is leaking out about Putin's personal stake: a fortune of "at least" $40 billion, which would make him Europe's richest man.

Putin's net worth has been a taboo subject in Russia, but it now appears that he controls more than a third of a major oil producer and has a controlling stake in a mysterious Swiss oil trader. Kremlin insiders say the battle is not ideological but financial, and some suggest that Putin would like to retire but is staying to protect Medvedev from the ex-KGB camp.