Petr Aven 101: Exploring the Life of a Russian Oligarch
Zatrun Published at January 28, 2024

Petr Aven, also known as Pyotr Aven, is a multifaceted personality, a Russian oligarch, a shrewd businessman, a seasoned economist, and an influential politician. With a fascinating life story and a blend of various roles, Aven’s life has been nothing short of captivating. delved deep into his life to reveal the layers of his existence.

Early Years and Academic Pursuits

Born in Moscow on the 16th of March, 1955, Petr Aven’s lineage reflects a mix of cultures. His father, Oleg Aven, was a professor of computer science with Latvian and Russian roots, while his mother hailed from a Jewish family. Aven’s paternal grandfather, Janis Aven (Jānis Avens), had a significant role in the Latvian rifleman movement. His childhood was marked by this rich cultural tapestry, setting the stage for his future endeavors.

Petr Aven’s academic journey commenced at the Moscow Physics and Mathematics School №2. In 1977, he proudly graduated from Moscow State University with a bachelor’s degree, later adding a PhD in economics in 1980 to his academic laurels. These formative years laid the foundation for his future roles in the spheres of economics and politics.

A Visionary Leader and Economic Reformer

Petr Aven’s career trajectory was a fascinating blend of academic research, international exposure, and policy-making. After his university days, he embarked on a journey as a senior researcher at the All-Union Research Institute for Systems Studies under the USSR Academy of Sciences. Aven then ventured beyond Russian borders to Austria, where he contributed his expertise to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg from 1989 to 1991.

His true calling came during the economic transformation of Russia in the early 1990s. Aven, along with other reformist colleagues, worked tirelessly to explore new economic systems. When Boris Yeltsin assumed the presidency, he entrusted Aven with the monumental task of making the Russian ruble convertible and resolving foreign debt issues.

Aven’s intellect and determination were on full display as he served as the Minister of Foreign Economic Relations for the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1992, representing Russia in the Group of Seven and conducting crucial trade and economic missions across Western capitals.

Following his government service, Aven transitioned into advising Boris Berezovsky, President of JSC “LogoVAZ,” and engaged with Russia’s Choice movement, even contesting in State Duma elections in 1993.

Petr Aven and the Alfa Group Consortium

In October 1994, fate led Aven to cross paths with Mikhail Fridman of the Alfa Group, resulting in a pivotal juncture in his career. Petr Aven embraced the role of an Alfa-Bank shareholder and served on the supervisory board of the Alfa Group Consortium.

His leadership abilities shone through as he assumed the role of President of Alfa-Bank Russia from 1994 until June 2011. Presently, Aven holds positions as a member and chairman of the board of directors of ABH Holdings S.A., chairman of the board of directors at AlfaStrakhovanie Group, and co-chairman of the board of directors of CTC Media, Inc.

Global Investments and Philanthropic Ventures

Apart from his corporate engagements, Petr Aven’s influence extends to the international business landscape. In 2013, he joined the board of LetterOne Group, an international investment entity founded by Mikhail Fridman, focusing on telecoms, technology, and energy sectors. Notable acquisitions include assets from the German utility business E. ON and a partnership with Brazilian telecoms company Oi SA.

Aven’s commitment to societal well-being is evident through his philanthropic endeavors. He founded the charity foundation “Generation” in 2008, prioritizing children’s healthcare, cultural exchanges between Latvia and Russia, and scholarships and grants in the field of science. His support for the Madona Hospital in Latvia exemplifies his dedication to healthcare initiatives.

Petr Aven’s passion for the arts and culture is showcased through his art collection and philanthropic activities. As an art collector, Aven’s interests range from pre-Soviet Russian art to works by artists of various nationalities. His collection has graced renowned institutions worldwide, including the Jewish Museum in Moscow, the Tate in London, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Notably, pieces from his collection were featured in exhibitions exploring early twentieth-century Russian art and its connections with German art.

Awards and Recognition

Aven’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. He has received international awards, including recognition as the best manager in the financial services sector in Russia in 2004. In 2015, he was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, acknowledging his role in fostering understanding between Russians and Americans.

Petr Aven’s life took a dramatic turn in 2022 when he was subjected to sanctions by the European Union in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. His assets were frozen, and investigations began in the UK into possible evasion of sanctions. Legal battles have ensued, with Aven and his legal team navigating these challenges.

Aven, along with Mikhail Fridman, was embroiled in libel suits in the past. In a significant 2005 case, a U.S. district court dismissed a libel suit against the Center for Public Integrity, relating to allegations involving drug-running and organized crime.

In 2017, a defamation lawsuit was filed against BuzzFeed for publishing the unverified Steele dossier, which made allegations of financial ties and collusion between Putin, Trump, and the Alfa-Bank owners. Another libel suit was initiated against Fusion GPS, the private-investigation firm commissioned to compile the dossier. These cases unfolded over the years, with their own complexities and outcomes.

Petr Aven’s commitment to public engagement is evident through his roles on various boards, including the New Economic School’s Endowment Foundation board of trustees, the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in Great Britain, and the council of trustees of the Russian Olympians Foundation. Aven also contributes to academia as a professor at State University Higher School of Economics and as a member of President’s Council on International Activities of Yale University in the USA.

The life of Petr Aven is a captivating narrative of contrasts – a journey that spans the heights of corporate leadership, philanthropy, and art collection, while also navigating the turbulent waters of sanctions and legal challenges. Petr Aven remains an enigma, leaving an indelible mark on the worlds he touches, and his story continues to evolve.

Follow the developments in the crypto world. What would you like us to inform you about?