Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story below, including responses
from the reporters.
Peter Linn - Chicago, Illinois
A thought-provoking piece on the oligarchs of Russia. While
the situation is far from perfect in Russia, it overall
seems to me that the country is on the right path (but challenges
no doubt lie ahead). It's hard to imagine any easy means
of establishing private property out of thin air, so the
fact that wheels are even in motion is encouraging in itself.
Ruben Joseph - Puyallup, Washington
I truly enjoyed the story, " Rich In Russia". Sabrina Tavernise's
report is one I could relate, too. I visited Russia in 2000
and had seen first-hand what the New Russia was like. I
would venture to say that [while] her account of what she
reported was some[what] watered down, I'm sure every word
she writes is under a microscope and yes there are powers
that be that are very strong and young and are making their
way up the social ladder, and building their own little
army to gain power and wealth.
Sridhar Chilimuri - Cedar Grove,
Disturbing! Is Russia ripe for another revolution? Perhaps
they should learn from India. Capitalism made 350 million
Indians richer not just ten. The key is gradual introduction
of open markets.
Anonymous - North Platte, Nebraska
Thank you very much for the interesting story, "Rich in
Russia." I have a pen-pal in Russia, and recently coordinated
a Russian reporter to speak at my college. Much of what
Ms. Tavernise said sounded familiar, yet it was good to
get the visual perspective of it all! Thanks.
Bailey Jepson - Pacific Palisades,
Oligarchs, schmoligarchs, these guys are nothing more elevated
than kleptocrats - thieves adept at working the bureaucracy.
And just how sorry is that ex-pat
for the many back in Russia who are poor?
For a little historical perspective,
the last few hundred years have seen the Russian masses
declared slaves in their own country by their own rulers,
disposable objects in mass social engineering experiments
and cogs in dull gray wheels. From these latter heights
they are now fallen. And as the one agro-tycoon pointed
out, they will not abide the excessive disparity long before
taking matters into their own hands - and Russia can't take
As to whether oligarchs and tycoons
are alike, they are surely more like each other than they
are like you and me. Oh yes, another thing that unites them
(and which flaw is not perfected by the passage of time):
"Behind every great fortune, a great crime." It's getting
harder and harder to find much nobility in anybody's aristocracy.
Anonymous - Napa, California
Enjoyed the story albeit the camera lingered far too much
on the interviewer (lovely as she is. However, I would have
liked to know how many of these "oligarchs" (charming name
for thieves, no?) are Jewish. Nary a word in the report,
which is unfortunate as some of us believe that much of
what triggers Putin's crackdown is an underlying anti-Semitism...
Responding to Anonymous in Napa,
Anonymous - New York, New York
At least five of the 8 (oligarchs) are Jewish, and there
is quite a lot of concern about the underlying anti-Semitism
in the Russian government. However, there is an even more
important issue: (the) current Russian president is a
former KGB agent, raised on the principles of Communism
and Socialism as well as total control by government.
What can be expected of him?
As far as these oligarchs go,
they were given their opportunities by the previous president.
Vilnius Blekaitis - Silver Spring,
Much thanks to S. Tavernise for a great report; like the
Afghan story that preceded it, it was engrossing. Russian
oligarchs appear to be no different from American tycoons;
both groups arose in a period of extraordinary transformation,
the latter arising as America changed from a primarily agricultural
society to an industrial powerhouse, the former arising
in the tumult of liberation from Soviet rule. Nonetheless,
many of our institutions were firmly entrenched at the time
that American industrialization took place, especially the
rule of law. Though women and minorities certainly were
excluded from enjoying all the privileges that our then
rather imperfect democracy had to offer, the institutions,
e.g., the Supreme Court, which would later guarantee their
inclusiveness, were well established. This does not appear
to be the case yet in Russia. We must press Putin, for the
sake of the Russian people, to abandon the thinking and
practices of the old Soviet rulers; intimidation of those
who don't share your political views must not be tolerated.
As we have learned in the American experience, free expression
of ideas benefits both the intellectual and the commercial
spheres of society. I suspect Putin is more enamored of
the Chinese model of capitalism than the Western one. We
should endeavour to show him that that is wrong.
Jim Britton - Springfield, Ohio
Your story on Russia was very good. Having visited Russia
many times I really enjoyed your reporting on the lives
of the rich. My visits are generally to the average Russian
Kashif Khalid - New York, New
A well put together broadcast and such impeccable timing.
Business and Politics in Russia...'boiling water.' What
lies in store for the Oligarchs of modern day Russia?
Jessica A. Bruno - Ridgewood, New Jersey
I really love this. My family gets home delivery of The
New York Times, but I never read them or didn't see the
first episode of this. Keep up the good work. Thank you.
Jessica A Bruno