A new report has said that the number of billionaires in Russia has doubled over the last year, with the country's super rich defying sluggish post-crisis growth to substantially boost their fortunes.
The annual rich list published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine showed the Russia's moneyed elite have staged a comeback after the financial crisis slashed their fortunes.
Forbes said that the number of billionaires on its 2010 rich list had almost doubled to 62 from 32 in crisis-hit 2009.
The total worth of the billionaires on the list also doubled to 297 billion dollars from 142 billion in 2009, said Forbes, whose list builds on the research of the world rich list published by its US sister publication.
The share-based assets of Russia's richest men -- many of whom made their fortunes in the chaotic privatisations of the 1990s and then accrued major political influence -- were hit hard by the slump in global stock markets.
But now they have bounced back even though the Russian economy's rebound from the crisis has hardly been stellar. The economy contracted 7.9 percent in 2009 and is expected to grow by around 4.5 percent this year.
"It's interesting to note that Russia's main stock market index, the RTS, rose twofold in the same period even while the economy as a whole was stagnating," said Forbes.
The list confirmed the US Forbes list's promotion of publicity-shy steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, who owns leading steel producer Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK), as Russia's richest man with a fortune of almost 16 billion dollars.
"Lisin did not ask the state for help (in the crisis). His liquid assets were easily sufficient to pay off debts for the next two years. It's hardly surprising that the share price has tripled over the last year," said Forbes.
Second place goes to Russia's richest man from 2009, the billionaire owner of the Onexim investment fund Mikhail Prokhorov. Third goes to Mikhail Fridman, owner of Russia's largest private bank.
The so-called oligarchs best known abroad follow in their wake
Fourth place was occupied by the owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich while fifth goes to Oleg Deripaska, the owner of aluminium giant UC Rusal, which listed its shares on the Hong Kong bourse earlier this year.
Forbes said that Deripaska had been in serious trouble in 2009 with his companies holding debts of 20 billion dollars.
But he then took personal charge of business at his holding company and Rusal, receiving state help and masterminding the Hong Kong listing.
According to Forbes, Russia's top five rich are:
1-- Vladimir Lisin, 15.8 billion dollar fortune vs 5.2 billion in 2009
2-- Mikhail Prokhorov, 13.4 billion vs 9.5 billion in 2009
3-- Mikhail Fridman, 12.7 billion vs 6.3 billion in 2009
4-- Roman Abramovich, 11.2 billion vs 8.5 billion in 2009
5-- Oleg Deripaska 10.7 billion vs 3.5 billion in 2009