The Richest Men in Russia — and Which Ones Are Facing Sanctions

Alisher Usmanov

Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor / Getty Images News / Getty Images Europe

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Alisher Usmanov
Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor / Getty Images News / Getty Images Europe

Meet the Billionaires

With Russia's attacks on Ukraine intensifying, the United States and others are going after Russian oligarchs thought to be part of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. A new U.S. task force will focus on tracking down and prosecuting corruption and violation of current sanctions, with the goal of seizing assets. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden warned: "We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains." Here's a look at the 12 richest Russians, according to Forbes' 2021 Billionaires list, and which of them are being targeted by this international effort. Some have already been sanctioned, but at least one Russian billionaire — perhaps surprisingly — is not exactly chummy with Putin.

Related: Boycotts, Bans, and More: Russia Squeezed From World Stage

Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich by Marina Lystseva (None)

Roman Abramovich | $14.5 Billion

Abramovich owns stakes in steel giant Evraz and mining company Norilsk Nickel, a 535-foot superyacht with its own missile defense system, and a majority of the U.K.'s Chelsea FC soccer team — well, until recently. The European Union added him to the list of sanctioned billionaires, and the U.K., which also sanctioned him, seized operations of the soccer team, banning ticket sales, merchandise sales, the signing of players, and even bookings in a Chelsea-owned hotel near the stadium. Abramovich had planned to sell the team for at least $2.5 billion with a goal of setting up a charitable foundation to receive the net proceeds of the sale "for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine." Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust museum, tried to intervene in planned sanctions against Abramovich, as he's the museum's second-largest donor, but to no avail.

Related: The Most Extravagant Yachts in the World

Mikhal Fridman
Mikhal Fridman by LetterOne Group (None)

Mikhail Fridman | $15.5 Billion

Ukrainian-born Fridman controls Alfa Group with fellow billionaires German Khan and Alexey Kuzmichev. ​​The EU has sanctioned Fridman, who lives in London and holds Israeli citizenship. He has stepped down from London-based LetterOne, and his stakes will be frozen; LetterOne staffers are no longer allowed to speak to him. Although he has called the war a "tragedy," he has stopped short of criticizing Putin. 

Related: 15 Historic Failures by Successful Billionaires

Suleiman Kerimov
Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor / Getty Images News / Getty Images Europe
Pavel Durov
Pavel Durov by TechCrunch (None)

Pavel Durov | $17.2 Billion

Some refer to this founder and owner of the messaging app Telegram, which has more than 500 million users, as "Russia's Mark Zuckerberg." Durov has stated he will consider shutting down channels related to the war because of rampant misinformation and that both Russian and Ukrainian user information will be "protected." He's no friend of Putin, having refused Kremlin orders to turn over access to users' Telegram messages in 2018. 

Related: I Quit Facebook for a Month and This Is What Happened

Andrey Melnichenko
Andrey Melnichenko by SUEK JSC (None)

Andrey Melnichenko | $17.9 Billion

This industrialist owns majority stakes in fertilizer producer Eurochem and coal energy company SUEK. He's also the owner of $580 million Superyacht A, which has been seized by Italian authorities following sanctions being levied against him.

Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Usmanov by Marie-Lan Nguyen (None)

Alisher Usmanov | $18.4 Billion

Usmanov has stakes in iron ore and steel giant Metalloinvest, and has an exclusive naming-rights option for the new U.K. stadium for Everton Football Club — or did. Although his USM Holdings sponsors Everton's training ground, his assets have been frozen by the EU, which put him on its sanctions list. His $600 million 515-foot superyacht, Dilbar, is in port in Germany for refitting, but, despite reports, has not been seized.

Gennady Timchenko
Gennady Timchenko by (None)

Gennady Timchenko | $22 Billion

Timchenko has stakes in various Russian businesses, including gas company Novatek and petrochemical producer Sibur Holding, and was recently sanctioned by the U.K. He has also been sanctioned by the United States and EU, and his $50 million yacht, Lena (reportedly named after his wife), has been seized by Italian authorities.

Леонид Викторович Михельсон
Леонид Викторович Михельсон by (None)

Leonid Mikhelson | $24.9 Billion

The founder and chairman of natural gas producer Novatek has sponsored art exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the New Museum in New York, and London's Tate. Although Mikhelson has not been individually sanctioned, Tate and others are being urged to cut ties with Russian oligarchs. He owns a $115 million superyacht, Pacific, last spotted off Costa Rica, according to Forbes, which is tracking the yachts owned by Russian billionaires.

Президент ПАО "ЛУКОЙЛ" Вагит Юсуфович Алекперов
Президент ПАО "ЛУКОЙЛ" Вагит Юсуфович Алекперов by Russian Presidential Press and Information Office (None)

Vagit Alekperov | $24.9 Billion

This former Caspian Sea oil rig worker became a deputy minister overseeing the oil industry in the Soviet Union. So far, Alekperov has been hardest hit by the international economic pressure on Russia — he lost more than $4.2 billion in a single day. His 230-foot superyacht, Galactica Super Nova, was tracked leaving Spain for Montenegro, which is not part of the EU. But now that Montenegro has joined the sanctions against Russia, the yacht is on the move again, according to CNBC, and has mysteriously turned off its tracking system, a potential violation of international maritime regulations.

Vladimir Lisin
Mikhail Svetlov / Contributor / Getty Images News / Getty Images Europe

Vladimir Lisin | $26.2 Billion

Lisin is chairman of NLMK Group, a leading manufacturer of steel products, but he's feeling the world's disapproval of the Russian invasion in another area. He's one of the co-leaders of the the International Shooting Sport Federation, which has banned shooters from Russia and Belarus. He has also urged Vladimir Putin to move toward a "peaceful, diplomatic" resolution to the war on Ukraine.

Vladimir Potanin
Vladimir Potanin by (None)

Vladimir Potanin | $27 Billion

Potanin, who acquired a stake in Norilsk Nickel during Russia's privatization in 1995, owns just over a third of the company. He is one of the Russian billionaires whose superyacht, 290-foot-long Nirvana, recently set sail for the Maldives, which conveniently does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. He has also criticized President Vladimir Putin's plan to confiscate assets of foreign companies leaving the country, as the move would take the country back "a hundred years" by creating distrust of Russia that would last decades.