A dozen years after bailing out the Soviet government, Russia’s oligarchs are seeking $78 billion in Kremlin handouts to weather the credit crunch, Bloomberg reports. Russian businesses have racked up some $110 billion in foreign debt due in 2009. The one-year loans, sought by more than 100 companies, would likely shift control of some industries back to the state.
“It’s extremely unlikely they’ll all be able to repay in a year,” said one money manager, with the financial crisis having picked $230 billion in equity from Russia’s wealthiest pockets. Without state help, over-extended industries (particularly steel) could be tapped out. “If they have to pay this, then they have no money for capital expenditure, no nothing,” an economist said.