STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL) — A controversial Russian businessman, who had become one of the first Soviet multimillionaires, appears to have settled in Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) with his family after reportedly fleeing Russia for reasons that are not entirely clear.
German Sterligov, 48, seemed to confirm on Tuesday his surprise relocation to the Armenian-populated territory. He said he will explain it at a news conference in Karabagh next Monday.
Sterligov rose to prominence in 1990 when he founded, together with several other Russian entrepreneurs, the Soviet Union’s first commodities exchange at the age of 24. It served as a launch pad for a financial empire with offices in London and New York which he built in the following years.
Sterligov subsequently became known as a deeply religious man with hardline nationalist views and extreme hostility to science and technology, which he accuses of destroying humankind. He tried unsuccessfully to run for the Russian presidency in 2004 after failed bids to become mayor of Moscow and governor of the vast Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia.
In 2004, Sterligov abandoned much of his wealth to move deep into the Russian countryside and live a traditional peasant lifestyle there with his wife and five children. As he explained to the BBC afterwards, he wanted to escape “the mercenary atmosphere, the envy and the hustle” of Moscow.
Four years later, Sterligov founded in central Russia the Sloboda rural commune that offered free housing, healthcare and other public services to young and married Russians willing to work there as farmers or craftsmen. Later in 2008, he resumed his entrepreneurial activities in Moscow, setting up a trading and financial services company.