Women Whose Lives Were Enriched by Wealth in Vladimir Putin's Inner Circle Risk Everything
By Speaking Out in the Paramount+ Exclusive Documentary "Secrets of the Oligarch Wives"
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The women partners of the billionaires who put President Vladimir Putin in charge risk everything by revealing the secrets of staying in the iron-willed dictator's good graces and the price some have paid for speaking out, in the Paramount+ original documentary SECRETS OF THE OLIGARCH WIVES. The 90-minute documentary will stream beginning Tuesday, June 28.
The women paint a terrifying picture of a vengeful petty tyrant who saw treachery at every turn, forgave nothing, settled every score and was jealous of their lifestyles. They tell stories of corruption, betrayal and suspected murder. In doing so, they put their own lives at risk.
"Whenever you make a contract with the devil, there will be consequences ... If you deal with the dark side, it will come to haunt you later," says Tatiana Fokina, whose partner Yevegny Chichvarkin was once worth over $1.5 billion.
Putin's invasion of Ukraine has rocked the world of the Oligarchs and other wealthy Russians, leaving them in the crosshairs of the West. Their assets have been frozen, their properties seized, even though they live in exile and cast out of the leader's inner circle.
The Oligarchs came into power in the 1990s when a select group of Russian businessmen took hold of large industries after the Soviet Union dissolved. Their wives and girlfriends shared in their unimaginable wealth - multimillion-dollar yachts, private jets and vast estates. The Oligarchs felt untouchable believing that President Vladimir Putin would be their puppet.
"Putin would much prefer to have been an oligarch than to have been president," says Alexandra Tolstoy, whose partner is oligarch Sergei Pugachev, once estimated to be worth $2 billion.
Pugachev was known as Putin's "banker" until he fled into exile in London.
"There is no difference between Russian organized crime and the Russian government," says businessman and author Bill Browder. "Russian government is effectively an organized crime organization and Vladimir Putin is the Mafia boss."
In SECRETS OF THE OLIGARCH WIVES, these women tell their truths even though it may cost them dearly, putting a target on their backs, making it impossible to visit family in a country led by a man who holds grudges and never forgets.
"Going to Russia now would be suicide for me," says Fokina, adding that she knows what she's said would get her thrown in jail.
SECRETS OF THE OLIGARCH WIVES is from See It Now Studios and BLINK FILMS. For Blink Films, Justine Kershaw, Laura Jones and David McNab are executive producers. Lynsey Neale is head of production. For See It Now Studios, Susan Zirinsky and Terence Wrong are the executive producers, Aysu Saliba is the supervising producer and Adam Goldfried is the executive director. Amy Gardner and Carlin Miller are the associate producers.
June 23, 2022 10:00am ET by CBS