Personal yachts, £40,000 long-distance sushi orders, London penthouses, and commuting to work by helicopter – all favorite pastimes and purchases of Russia’s new billionaires.
After my recent post on Moscow’s VIP mentality, I thought this book had some interesting insights into why Russians are so obsessed with status and luxury privileges. Here’s a quote from the book’s first chapter:
The staggering spending of Russians is not based just on a crude materialistic desire for luxury goods; it also stems from a fatalistic mindset and generally pessimistic approach to life. For centuries the Russian people have suffered enormous hardship, poverty, starvation, and brutal repression: an estimated 20 million died during Stalin’s regime, and another 1.1 million perished during the siege of Stalingrad alone during 1942-3. Even after the collapse of the Soviet empire, millions continued to live in a state of permanent insecurity and anxiety exacerbated by a harsh winter climate, economic instability, and a corrupt rule of law. Even the new billionaires and their families believe that they could lose everything tomorrow. A favorite Russian saying goes: ‘Never say never to poverty or prison. Both could happen tomorrow.’ This is why they spend…
My latest metro read, Londongrad, is on loan to me from a fellow bookworm here in Moscow. Our mutual friend, C. is also a UK teacher who works at one of Moscow’s poshest British grammar schools – I’m sure he could share stories about some of his preposterously rich students. The book is a fantastic page turner that tells the wild west tale of Russia’s super rich oligarchs who gained their fortunes in the free-for-all 1990’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Highly recommended reading!