Article of the Week Preview: Elena Baturina, Russia's Richest Woman, on Politics, Business and Good Design - Spear's Magazine

Article of the Week Preview: Elena Baturina, Russia's Richest Woman, on Politics, Business and Good Design

Read preview extracts from Spear's article of the week, Sophie McBain's interview with Elena Baturina, Russia's richest woman, as she explains that despite her nervy entourage, diamond encrusted watch and multi-billion pound fortune, she's still, at heart, a working class Moscow girl

Read extracts from Spear's article of the week, Sophie McBain's interview with Elena Baturina, Russia's richest woman, as she explains that despite her nervy entourage, diamond encrusted watch and multi-billion pound fortune, she's still, at heart, a working class Moscow girl.
 

‘Notwithstanding my life, I feel like I’m still what I was, a working-class girl from the suburbs of Moscow,’ says Elena Baturina, Russia's richest woman, speaking through her translator. Her first job was as a factory worker, but after studying at the Moscow Institute of Management and joining a local municipal commission during perestroika, in 1991 she set up her own company, Inteco. It was originally a plastic goods company that later expanded into construction — and this year Forbes estimated Baturina’s total wealth at $1.1 billion. This was after a bad few years for business, too — at the height of her fortune she was worth almost four times as much.

While Baturina won contracts for lucrative property developments, her husband, Yury Luzhkov, was Moscow’s mayor from 1992 to 2010. This is not coincidental, critics say, although Luzhkov has maintained that his job has been a constraint on his wife’s ambitions. Then, in 2010, Luzhkov was ousted from his position amid corruption allegations and rumours of an elite power struggle, and Baturina left Russia with her two daughters, apparently fearing for their safety. In 2011 she sold Inteco for an undisclosed price.

Her 'creative think-tank' Be Open was founded last year, too, and she says it’s a ‘logical continuation’ of what she’s been doing over the past two decades. Her construction career has brought her into contact with world-famous designers and architects, she explains, and now she’s interested in design as a force for good.
 
We talk to Baturina about Russian politics, being a woman in business, the dangers of 'profit-chasing' and how good design can change the world. You can read the full article here tomorrow.

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