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Hobbies of Successful Russian Businessmen by Oleg Shnur

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Hobbies of Successful Russian Businessmen by
Article Posted: 06/28/2017
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Hobbies of Successful Russian Businessmen

Much info can be found in mass media as for how rich people work. But how do they relax? It is quite interesting to know about that since hobby is a part of the road to success, too. In the course of our rest, we sort things (thoughts and mood) out in our head, disciplining ourselves to act on certain schemes. As a result, hobby insensibly leaves traces on the whole human lifestyle. Here is the detailed analysis of the hobbies of the top richest businessmen of Russia.

Alpine skiing and snowboarding

Many businessmen started going in for alpine skiing in the 2000s by the example of the RF President Vladimir Putin. The country then purred like a cat of the ‘tired and gone’ Boris Yeltsin’s substitution for the ‘young and go-ahead’ Putin, who could easily have a slide on skis on camera. The business leaders perceived it as a signal to change their way of life. As a result, the Head of Norilsk Nickel Vladimir POTANIN decided to build a ‘clubby’ mountain ski resort in Sochi. Then this idea was modified into the Olympic construction project. POTANIN told in his interview to Forbes how incremental the project scale (and budget) was: “When I was thinking to do that completely ‘for-itself’, it cost 70 million dollars. But when Canadians explained that about one hundred kilometers of runs or trails could be built here (meaning about 20 ski-lifts and up to 6 500 tourists), it became clear that it would be about 350 million... And when we opted into the Olympics and, especially, when we won them, we realized it’s a billion”.

Combat sports

One more kind of sports brought into fashion by Putin – combat sports. Possibly, ‘Putin the Judoka’ is vulgarly known even better than ‘Putin the Mountain Skier’. A different question is that, generally, it is more difficult to go in for combat sports on a regular basis, than to visit ski resorts from time to time. Nevertheless, quite a lot of those businessmen were found who adopted this hobby of the head of the state, either. Some of them did it long before his presidency. Thus, the Rotenberg brothers (ARKADIY and Boris) as early as in their childhood time – in the 1960s – went in for the same judo class as Putin did. Though, the enthusiasm for combat sports is definitely not the homage to fashion for all. Many very rich people have gone in for unarmed self-defense, judo or boxing since childhood, having athletic titles. And the co-owner of METALLOINVEST ANDREY SKOCH and the majority shareholder of FOSAGRO ANDREY GURJEV are even Masters of Sport and Honored Coaches of Russia.


Hunting is a classical male hobby and, of course, it did not come by the richest people of Russia, as well. Some of them prefer the national hunting sector; the others combine hunting with the far journeys. Thus, the co-owner of the Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port ALEKSANDR SKOROBOGATJKO and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SHEREMETYEVO Airport ALEKSANDR PONOMARENKO, during their two-week holiday in Tanzania, killed two leopards, a lion, two crocodiles, four buffaloes and over ten antelopes… And an investor ALEKSANDR SMUZIKOV is ranked first among the Russian hunters in the SCI Record Book – in the ‘Japanese Deer Hunting Trophies’ section…


Over recent years, hunting has seemed to be too violent hobby to many people. On the other hand, fishing is a meditative and much less bloody hobby. At that, like hunting, fishing allows for secluding with the nature; it is associated with journeys both to the outlying corners of Russia and different parts of the world. One of the most dedicated fishermen among the Russian millionaires is the founder of such investment company as United Capital Partners ILYA SHCHERBOVICH. His father and grandfather started taking him out for fishing with them as early as at the preschool age. Later on, he was into fishing TAIMEN floating the bait – with the subsequent release of his catch. Two TAIMENS caught by SHCHERBOVICH have entered the record book of the International Game Fish Association.

In 2006, SHCHERBOVICH purchased such tourist centre as REKA PONOY (the River PONOY) in the Murmansk Region. Many high Russian and foreign officials such as DMITRIY MEDVEDEV, Sergey IVANOV, Jimmy Carter, Dick Cheney, Paul Volcker and others came there to fish. The businessman assures they were attracted there not by personal relations, but by the really unique natural resources. SHCHERBOVICH takes his personal care of such resource conservation, having actually created a wildlife sanctuary on the River PONOY at his own expense.

Board games

Chess, tables and other similar games fit people for thinking strategically, which is necessary for survival in the world of big business. It is not surprising that there are quite a lot of chess players among the richest people of Russia. Thus, in 2014, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of such company as TULOMA and a shareholder of N-Trans ANDREY FILATOV was elected the President of the Russia Chess Federation. The youngest participant of the Forbes list of the richest businessmen – DENI BAZHAYEV, who has come into Alliance Group after his plane crash-killed father, is also into chess. For the first time, BAZHAYEV was included in the Forbes list in 2011, when he was only 15 years old. The fact is that the young man is different from others by intelligence: at the age of 15, he passed the IQ test with 148 scores. The interest in chess in his childhood time, probably, had an impact on the aforesaid SHCHERBOVICH’S development (who started work in the World Bank structure as early as in the second year of his study at the Plekhanov Academy of Economics).


There are quite a lot of the avid travelers among the millionaires and billionaires. At that, by no means all of them prefer relaxing in luxury hotels at the best world resorts. One of the world-leading specialists in information security – YEVGENIY KASPERSKY – examines the active volcanoes’ craters at his leisure time. And the Chairman of the Board of Directors of such insurance company as VSK Sergey TSIKALYUK enjoys roaming with a tent about Taymyr, YAKUTIA, PRIMORYE, Kamchatka and other out-of-the-way spots of the country. Finally, the biggest owner of OJSC SYLVINITE PETR KONDRASHEV, in 2009 (on the eve of his 57th anniversary), effected an ascent of the top of Kilimanjaro.

Equestrian sport

In the past, almost all peasants had a horse and cars were considered to be expensive toys of the rich. Now, everything has turned upside down: cars have not turned into luxury, but into a means of transport, however only those who have an income above the average can allow for going in for equestrian sport. The co-owner of such amalgamated company as DANONE and UNIMILK – ANDREY BESKHMELJNITSKIY – and the Chairman of the Coordinating Council of SKOLKOVO Moscow School of Management ANDREY RAPPOPORT have their own stud farms. BESKHMELJNITSKIY purchased the KHRENOVSKIY Stud Farm in the Voronezh Region, established in 1776 by Count Aleksey ORLOV, and RAPPOPORT bought one of the oldest in Russia – the ZLYNSKIY Stud Farm in the Orel Region. RAPPOPORT told in some interview that he flies to his horses by helicopter…

Car racing

Though, there are some fans of the new means of transport among the millionaires, either. They are into car racing, rally and other similar sports. The sons of the first President of TATARSTAN – AYRAT and RADIK SHAYMIYEVS, included in the Forbes list, have multiply won titles of the champions of Europe in autocross. Another twin brothers Sergey and NIKOLAY SARKISOVS take part in a rally on a regular basis. The President of SKOLKOVO Foundation Viktor VEKSELBERG and the President of ICT Group ALEKSANDR NESIS take a regular part in the joint jeep safari through exotic countries. They invite for safari their business partners, so such events can be considered as a kind of ‘elite corporate parties’.


The oriental philosophy teaches self-control and contemplativeness – the useful properties for a businessman. Despite that in the Russian conditions such hobbies border on a kind of eccentricity, some millionaires are not afraid to shock society. A member of the Supervisory Council of Moscow Credit Bank, the father of four biological and 19 adopted children – Roman AVDEYEV – is into yoga. The whole businessman’s family adheres to vegetarianism. The head of the family dedicates his time to yoga from 7 to 9 in the morning. The ex-owner of URALSIB Bank NIKOLAY TSVETKOV is into yoga (and esotery, in general), too. However, his hobby has rather led him to business problems. TSVETKOV went too far, trying to tempt the bank’s employees to his philosophy. In 2015, URALSIB was bought by a billionaire Vladimir KOGAN, and since 2016 TSVETKOV has escaped the Forbes list of the richest businessmen.

Golf, tennis and fencing

Not so many Russian millionaires and billionaires pay their attention to the ‘classical hobbies of the rich’ such as golf, tennis or fencing. However, some of them pay a tribute to the aristocratic forms of leisure, anyway. The founder of USM Holdings ALISHER USMANOV is the President of the International Fencing Federation. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of IFD KAPITAL Leonid FEDUN, though owing SPARTAK football team, prefers playing tennis. In 2012, an investor GLEB FETISOV won the bronze medal of the Golf Championship of the Moscow Region.

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