In 2014, Lenta.ru conducted a study into the ethnic composition of Russia’s billionaires. (Steve Sailer picked it up as well). The observation that Jews constituted 21% of the Russian Forbes 200 predictably drove handshakeworthy journalists, Jews, and especially Jewish journalists into a tizzy (as I recall, when I asked him when he was also going to condemn Forbes Israel, which also loves to count Jewish billionaires, that was when anti-Russian hack Ben Judah blocked me).
The hysteria concealed real failings in the article. There was no clear methodology. Furthermore, the numbers of Ukrainians in the ratings seemed vastly inflated. They supposedly constituted 12% of Russian billionaires, even though most of them were nothing of the sort; the analytical team seems to have just consigned everyone with a surname ending in “ko” to the Ukrainian race. This makes about as much sense as counting Donald Drumpf as a German oligarch in America.
Still, some general trends could be clearly discerned. Russians – that is, Russians and Russians misattributed as Ukrainians and Belorussians – consituted about 66% of the list’s members and almost exactly half of the combined capital of $481 billion. Jews and Mountain Jews constituted 24% of the list, and had 28% of the capital. All of the rest belonged to Caucasian and Muslim minorities. Notably, there were no traditionally Buddhist/animist Siberian minorities on the list.
In recent days, the blogger Ivan Vladimirov, who produces excellent data-heavy material on Russian demographics, published a similar census based on the spring 2017 edition of the Forbes 200 for Russia for the nationalist journal Sputnik and Pogrom: Who Owns Russia?
Here are some of the more pertinent take-away points:
1. First, he notes that state ownership is now at 70% of the Russian economy, twice its share 10 years ago, so in actual fact, the real “owners” of Russia are now the curators and appointed directors of its state behemoths, such as Igor Sechin (Rosneft) and Alexey Miller (Gazprom).
2. Unlike Lenta.ru, he goes into some detail into his methodology:
- No “svidomy zmagars” – all the billionaires with distant Ukrainian or Belorussian ancestors are assumed to be Russians by default.
- Nationality is passed on down the paternal line, including with the Jews.
- Unless they have openly declared they identify more with another aspect of their ancestry. For instance, Petr Aven (head of Alpha Bank), despite being a Latvian-Russian métis through his father, identifies more with his Jewish maternal grandmother and belongs to Jewish organizations, so he’s considered to be a Jew.
- No presumption of Jewishness or non-Jewishness based on just the name since there are too many false positives.
3. Now we come to the actual numbers – out of the Forbes 200 and their cumulative $459 billion in assets:
Russians constitute 127 (63.5%) of the people in the list, including 57.4% of the capital.
Jews have 41 (20.5%) people in the list, with 24.8% of the capital.
After those came Armenians (7), Tatars (6), Azeris, Chechens, and Ingush (3 each), and two Uzbeks, though one of the latter, Alisher Usmanov, is the fifth richest billionaire in Russia and has a relatively “interesting” public profile (a spat with Navalny; funding Western race realists).
4. Vladimirov also notes that the Russian billionaires tend to have a very low degree of national consciousness.
For instance, Evgeny Kaspersky’s comments when asked if he had any Jewish ancestry on a visit to Israel:
I searched and searched, alas, I did not find… I got the name from Polish peasants, who during the uprising in the 1860s emigrated somewhere under Nelidovo about 300km from Moscow. There they married into Russians (that is, Slavic, Tatar, Polovtsian and whatever else constitutes “Russian” blood from in me). By mother is from the Tambov peasants. But this is the most interesting thing. Tambov was inhabited by soldiers who served their lives in various places. And soldiers sometimes came with brides from the most different places. And according to indirect data – I have roots from Scandinavia and Persia. But from Israel – alas, no… Although who knows?
This is, of course, nonsense from a population genetics standpoint. But one of the tropes of Soviet/Russian multiculturalism is that Russians are mulattoes up and there is no such thing as a Russian anyway. And the Russian elites respect this legacy, after as they’ve long done away with the economic aspects of Soviet dogma.
In fairness, this multicultural spirit likewise applies to Russia’s Muslim elite. He cites the example of Mikhail Gutsuryev, who sits on the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance, while at the same time funding the construction of synagogues, Orthodox churches, and mosques. Or Lukoil head Vagit Alekperov, an Azeri-Russian, who renovated the main Russian Orthodox church of Imperial-era Baku, and prefers to keep his silence on matters of religion: According to a NYT profile of him from 2004, he “prudently keeps leather-bound copies of both the Koran and the Bible at his office, to allay any concerns that he prefers one almighty to another.”
5. I also noticed that Russia’s statistics are rather similar to America’s.
In the US, North-West Europeans make up 51% of the members and own 56% of the cumulative assets in the Forbes 2010 list – this is almost identical to the figures for Russians in Russia, though on the other hand, this demographic group only makes up about 50% of the US population (non-Hispanic Whites minus Greeks, Italians, etc.), whereas Russians constitute 80% of Russia.
Jews own about a quarter of Russia but more than a third of the US – that said, they only make up 0.1% of the Russian population, versus 2% of the US population. That said, as Vladimirov points out, the more relevant indicator would be their 0.5% share of the Soviet population c.1989.
It is also interesting to note that “southern” diasporas, which in Russia’s case are Caucasians (Armenians, Azeris, Ingush, and for that matter, the Jews), are relatively more successful in commerce/becoming billionaires in Russia. This is also true for the US, where Italians, Middle Easterners, and Greeks are overrepresented as a share of the population. This is even though with the exception of the Jews, who are massively overrepresented, their IQs are no higher than those of WASPs or Russians, and possibly noticeably lower. I have speculated at times whether this “commercial trait” of people with Near Eastern/East Med ancestry could have developed as a consequence of their unrivalled length of experience with urban life and the associated haggling, bartering, etc. skills it selected for over the millennia.