Post-Soviet Russia in the adventurous 1990's – the Wild Decade
Privatization, Oligarchs, Mafia and Vodka
Derrick Widmer, an executive at the Swiss Holderbank (Holcim) Cement Group, travelled to Moscow, with his assistant, in December of 1991, 15 months following the downfall of the Soviet Union, a visit prompted by an invitation extended by the Russian Alfa Investment Fund. In 1991,it was apparent to any visitor that the political and economic structures of the country had been shattered and the population impoverished, except for a few businessmen (bisnessmeni) who had quickly become rich and who ultimately became the nucleus of a rising social class referred to as the oligarchs. The country verged on anarchy and total collapse. Law was meaningless, might made right and wealth walked hand-in-hand with death. Mr. Widmer, the author, experienced these wild years of Post-Soviet Russia in the 90’s as a contemporary witness. His fascinating insights into the underlying forces that forged the political and economic transformation of the country are insights gained from his first-hand encounters with famous politicians, oligarchs, bankers and lawyers. His initial perception of Russia, shaped by the many years of the Cold War, was, following these visits, dramatically changed, from that of enemy to friend.