Elena Baturina didn’t get to be the richest woman in Russia by playing dirty tricks, said Stefanie Marsh in The Times (U.K.). I was “tough,” says the 49-year-old billionaire, “but not ruthless.” Baturina turned a plastics company in Moscow into a vast empire controlling 20 percent of the city’s construction business. Some claim her success was achieved through favorable treatment from her husband, Yuri Luzhkov, who was mayor of Moscow for 18 years. While both strongly deny such claims, she does admit that it can be tricky doing business in Russia, which is rife with corruption and illegal activities. “Nobody cares that the law is not being abided by.” On the other hand, she says, “nobody is killed for doing business, like they were in the ’90s.” Having had her Moscow offices raided by the authorities in 2011—“common practice in Russia”—she now bases her operations in London, where her daughters, ages 18 and 20, study. Baturina isn’t shy about spending her $1.2 billion fortune in pursuit of classical Russian art and 19th-century porcelain. Her children, though, have developed a taste for modern masterpieces by Dalí and Warhol, which pleases her. “Now I know what to give them for their birthdays,” she says.
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