Russian Billionaire’s Unusual Divorce Strategy

Caught up in an expensive divorce battle with your ex-wife? Apply Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev’s strategy: use black magic!

What would you do if you were facing a huge divorce (the biggest divorce ever, to be precise)? Well if you were Russian oligarch and billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, you’d go full-on with shamanic magic. Not everyone would spontaneously think about hiring Russian mediums, but when you’re a billionaire and can afford their fees, then go for it.

Because yes, that’s the thing: hiring the two ‘specialists’ he hired wasn’t cheap. According to the Russian press, he paid more than half a million US dollars for their services. He was probably thinking it was a minute investment compared to a multibillion-dollar settlement deal with his ex-wife. Dmitry Rybolovlev is indeed one of the world’s richest men – close to 8 billion dollars in various assets, according to Forbes latest assessments. He made his fortune as the owner of a potassium-mining company in the 90s and 2000s, becoming a de facto king of fertilizers and making a huge fortune in the process.

Hearing about Russian oligarchs behaving weirdly won’t surprise that many people. For those familiar with the the layers of nuttiness the internet has to offer, it might even remind them of the extraordinary video filmed in 2013 by a Vice.com crew who spent a day with another Russian oligarch, Sergey Veremeenko. The video is currently sitting and 6,5 million hits on Youtube, and if you want a display of Russian weirdness, you’ll understand why. It includes, among other strange things, a hunting session conducted from the inside of a heated hut, and a few punchlines on what it’s like to be rich and married to a sexy wife.

Yet whilst most Russian oligarchs and/or billionaires seem to have a thing for the bizarre, using shamanism is something different. Some Russian businessmen do it, but it’s not the practice itself. It’s the people who do it. We’re talking ‘Misha the Magnet’ and ‘Nikolay the Handbell Man’. Yup, the magnet and the handbell man. And no, they aren’t the X-Men’s arch-enemies from outer space. One is from Moscow (that’s Mr Magnet) and the other is a more country-type ‘Bear Shaman’ (that’s Mr Handbell). They’re the two geniuses Dmitry Rybolovlev used for his divorce-related problems.

So… did it work? Well yes, it looks like it did. Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ex-wife dropped some of her demands and… fell ill whilst he was getting better in the meantime. It’s a bit difficult to say what part psychology played in all this, but in the eye of the believer, that’ll be the result everyone would’ve expected. Skeptics might say Mr Rybolovlev’s more mundane tactics may have been as efficient in obtaining this result: he was cautious enough to back up his shaman-friends’ black magic with a good dose of legal work and financial precautionary measures. Maybe it’s a combination of all that. Anyhow, it’s certainly an unusual divorce strategy.

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Russian Businessmen with Dark Pasts Living Untouched in the US

If you hear about two Russians leaving their country after having been to prison there and ending up in the US to live a comfortable life, you’re probably being told who the villains of the next Netflix series are, or listening to an 80s’ film plot. The image of Russian businessmen with mob ties is so stereotypical it’s been used over and over again in fiction. It’s really smiling material.

Up to a point. It’ll make you smile until the moment you realize there are, in fact, Russian businessmen with mob ties living the life on US soil. Agreed, some do live in the shadows, but some of them also live in plain sight. Let’s take two examples: the loud Mr Rybolovlev and the discreet Mr Rustamov.

Dmitry Rybolovlev is the most well-known of the two. A Russian billionaire with a firm seat in Forbes’ top 200 worldwide fortunes, he is the former owner of Russian mining mega-company Uralkali, which he sold out of in 2010 for US$ 5.8 billion, or an alleged US$ 7 to 8 billion. He left Russia and now lives in Europe and the US, spending his time living in super-expensive flats and villas and throwing obnoxious parties (he notably bought a Palm Beach villa from Donald Trump and a Hawaii property from Will Smith, amongst others). He owns AS Monaco, a prominent European soccer club which plays in the top French league. He sells superstar soccer players to English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga clubs. He is friends with Prince Albert II of Monaco and Leonardo di Caprio. In many ways, Mr Rybolovlev is the man.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, however, is also the man who went to prison for allegedly ordering the contract killing of a business associate. This was nineties’ Russia, with its horde of semi-criminal business opportunists and college-educated businessmen who didn’t mind a firefight. This is where and when he met the second of our ‘examples’, Seyfeddin Rustamov. Mr Rustamov is suspected by the Russian police to have organized mafia protection for Dmitry Rybolovlev at that time.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Rustamov did time in 1993 for theft when he was a recognized gang leader. His name also appears in the police reports around the contract killing of Dmitry Rybolovlev’s associate, which is a lot of coincidences. Seyfedding Rustamov now lives in Virginia, and has been for the past 20 years. He is the managing director of a US company. He has it pretty easy.

Now here’s the key question: how could two men like these, which the Russian authorities consider to have had open ties with the local Russian mafia, who made their money in what can at best be politely described as obscure circumstances, have made it so easily to the US? Have they been benefitting from the willing or unwilling protection of the Administration? Were they simply let in due to Immigration Services’ blatant incompetence?

Whatever the answer to these questions, the example of Mr Rybolovlev and Mr Rustamov are a striking reminder that Russian businessmen with mob ties have been able to come to the US easily and even live on US soil completely untouched and free of any worry. Time to think about changing that?