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110 Russians own 35% of the money

Just 110 people own more than a third of Russia's total wealth, the highest level of inequality in the world barring small Caribbean nations, a new report says.

Investment bank Credit Suisse said that the group owned 35% of household wealth.

Worldwide, billionaires account for just 1-2% of total wealth but Russia has one billionaire for every 11 billion dollars (£6.9 billion) in wealth while in the rest of the world there is only one for 170 billion dollars (£107 billion).

The fall of Communism saw Russia's most prized assets sold off to a small circle of businessmen later known as oligarchs. President Vladimir Putin allowed them to keep their wealth in exchange for their political loyalty.

Metals and banking tycoons Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Fridman, who made their fortunes in the 90s, are still high on the list of Russia's richest men. But the past decade saw a rise of new billionaires who draw their wealth from state contracts and some of whom are known to be the presidents' friends, like Gennady Timchenko.

Credit Suisse said that there had been hopes with the demise of the Soviet Union that Russia would turn into a high skilled economy with fair wealth distribution but "this is almost a parody of what happened in practice."

The 35% of wealth that Russian billionaires own is equivalent to 420 billion dollars (£263 billion).

"Russia has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, apart from small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires," the bank's report said.

-AP

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