Story of Roman Abramovich: From Dirt Poor Childhood to Making Vladimir Putin Reign in Kremlin

Roman Abramovich's name has been doing the rounds following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, as the oligarch had once helped Putin in his political rise. However, few know that Abramovich was once a poor orphan who started his journey from Russia's southeast city Saratov. He, however, amassed massive wealth and played a decisive role in selecting heads of state in Russia by using the power vacuum left from collapsing the Soviet Union.

Abramovich, who owns Chelsea football club, made a sensational claim a day back as he announced to put the club for sale, stating that he will donate all "net proceeds" from the sale to a foundation set up by his team to help victims of the Ukraine invasion, a move which experts see arose from the threat of avalanches of sanctions imposed against Russia and Putin.

Roman Abramovich

The Russian oligarch is scrambling to sell his assets as he also eyes possible sanctions against him over his closeness to Putin at the current scenario of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In the recent days, many western leaders have urged the governments to impose sanctions against Abramovich.

The 55-year-old Kremlingarch, who is now embroiled in many cases, has so far lived a billionaire's life in peace by enjoying his mansions, superyachts, and one of his private jets which makes up his £8.4 billion empire, reported Daily Mail.

Roman Abramovich

Poor Russian Child

The oligarch, who is very close to Putin, also has a large family. Roman has seven children from two of his three ex-wives.

Born in southwest Russia's Saratov city, Abramovich was raised by his grandparents in Siberia's Komi since he was four as his parents died when he was young.

Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich Reuters

Grandparents From Ukraine

Notably, Abramovich's grandparents were from Ukraine and had fled the place during the war.

Abramovich's mother and father both had died very early. His mother Irina died from fatal blood poisoning when she fell pregnant again after Abramovich was born. Arkady, the billionaire's father, was majorly injured by a crane at a construction site which led to his death in May 1969.

No Complaints About Childhood

Despite having early massive challenges at an early age, Abramovich never complained about his childhood.

In the past, the Jewish billionaire said, 'In your childhood, you can't compare things: one eats carrots, one eats candy, both taste good. As a child, you cannot tell the difference."

The Money Saga

Abramovich's money saga began from flogging plastic dolls on a stall to make money as he dropped two colleges in 1980. Later, he also started selling rubber ducks from his apartment in Moscow.

The billionaire has also served in the Soviet army before he received 2,000 rubles as a wedding present from the parents of his first wife Olga Lysova. This helped him to widen his sales as he included deodorants and perfumes in his products, according to Daily Mail.

When the Soviet Union started to collapse under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, he started making serious money when Russia witnessed perestroika, an openness moment by then-Soviet government policy seeking to restructure the country's political and economic policy to match capitalists countries.

The weakening Soviet was loosening its grip on businesses, creating a vacuum for oligarchs to takeover state-owned companies.

Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich IBT

But the major money chapter began after he tied up with Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who was very close to then-president Boris Yeltsin.

Berezovsky's connection with the top brass rave Abramovich key opportunities to make money. The oligarchs at that time were so close to the president that Abramovich had even lived in a flat in the Kremlin.

Abramovich First Recommended Vladimir Putin's Name as Russian Prez

A fact is widely believed that the name of Vladimir Putin was first recommended by Abramovich to Yeltsin for the next Russian President, a move which indicates that the oligarch's influence was deeply rooted in Russia.

When Putin was to form his cabinet as Russian Prime Minister in 1999, all of the candidates were interviewed by Abramovich before they were given approval, which shows that the oligarch could even be termed as then de-facto top head of Russia.

Since then, Abramovich has been close to Putin. Even in 2007 the Russian President consulted the oligarch when he was looking for a suitable person for Russian Presidency. Then Abramovich had recommended Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012.

His key roles in deciding top figures and determining the country's policies gave him massive opportunities to make major profits.

The oligarch made billions when he bought oil company Sibneft.

The firm was purchased by Berezovsky and Abramovich for just £100 million. The purchase was completed by using the controversial loans-for-shares program when it was estimated to be worth around £600 million.

The oligarch was not only part of businesses but he also enjoyed an active and direct role in politics. In 2000, he was governor of the far eastern Chukotka region.

The oligarch in 2003 bought Chelsea football club, gaining attention from British authorities as he had put massive money on the table.

He is also the largest shareholder of Evraz, a steel and mining giant listed on the London stock market.