Russian oligarchs are buying up airports despite sanctions

A share in the management of an airport in northwest Kazakhstan, not far from the Russian-Kazakh border, has been purchased by a Russian airports operator. 

Earlier we already informed you that Viktor Kharitonin is going to buy Frankfurt-Hahn airport (formerly a US military airfield).

Oligarchs property

The Russian corporation Airports of Regions hopes to expand the Oral airport into a regional hub with its first overseas acquisition, most likely to accommodate passengers afflicted by the lack of flights out of Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine. 

When the company, which is owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, announced the acquisition on February 10, it did not provide details regarding the purchase’s cost or size.

Under the US and EU sanctions

Prominent businessman Viktor Vekselberg, whose fortune is estimated at 6 billion dollars (5.6 billion Swiss francs), is closely connected with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the ex-President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev.

Viktor Vekselberg was included in the new US sanctions lists because of the accusations of illegal activity in the interests of Putin and the key role that the owner of the Renova business group plays in the Russian technology sector.

“In addition, Vekselberg takes an active part in the implementation of “soft power” mechanisms in Russian foreign policy, acting in the interests of the Kremlin,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

The total cost of the Tango yacht and the Airbus A319 private plane is estimated at 180 million dollars.

The airport

The Russian corporation provided little details about the acquisition. Nonetheless, it stated that it intended to develop the airport into a regional aviation hub. The airport currently handles about 300,000 people yearly.

The airport’s new terminal was just finished. The investors now intend to invest money in infrastructure improvements for passengers and freight and security equipment upgrades.

Astana, which has frequently said that it will never permit Kazakhstan to become a backdoor way for sanctions-dodging by its neighbor and partner Russia, may not like that a sanctioned Russian oligarch is a part of the group.

To satisfy the demand, the government of Kazakhstan is eager to entice investors to build airport infrastructure.

Major shareholders are still Kazakhs

But, according to Kazakhstani media, Kazakh investors would own 51% of the consortium, known as Oral Airport Holding, while the Russian firm will own 49%. 

Entrepreneur Dauletkhan Kilybayev and Sergey Artyugin-owned Uralsk Management are the partners from Kazakhstan. He is the chairman of the Oral Airport Holding group, which will now oversee airport operations for three years. Manshuk Mametova Airport will continue to be governmental property.

The company, which operates airports in cities throughout Russia including Yekaterinburg, Samara, Saratov, Orenburg, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, and Tobolsk, explained that the airport’s convenient location in northwestern Kazakhstan will make it possible to develop transit traffic and create a regional hub on its basis.

About 25 miles from the Russian border, Oral (also known as Uralsk) has direct bus connections to Samara, which is located four hours to the north.

Sanctions do not apply to Russian oligarchs properly. In some cases, interested sellers simply say that “he does not support the war against Ukraine.” In others, the oligarch will register a front company to buy the property.

Nevertheless, purchasing such strategic objects as an airport, especially in NATO countries, is a significant threat to the alliance’s security.

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top