(In the paper edition, this article was titled “Oligarchy 2.0”.)
In the nineties, Russia’s oligarchs appropriated state assets—industrial production, mining, and oil and gas deposits—and did what they wanted with them. The oligarchs of the Putin era, on the other hand, are themselves assets of the state, administering business fiefdoms that also happen to pay handsomely. Many have a long-standing relationship with the President, and a particular sphere of responsibility. Rotenberg’s is infrastructure.