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Igor Makarov, from Soviet cyclist to Russian Turkmen gas oligarch

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Igor Makarov, from Soviet cyclist to Russian Turkmen gas oligarch

Who is Igor Makarov? Despite more than thirty years of career in business and cycling bodies, it remains difficult to answer this question with precision, as the 61-year-old Russian-Turkmen oligarch has managed to protect himself from international media attention.

After a fairly average cycling career during the time of the USSR, this native of Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) launched the Itera group in 1992, whose headquarters are located in Jacksonville (Florida). The latter quickly established itself as “one of the most important gas suppliers to the former Soviet countries of the 1990s, thanks to Mr. Makarov’s good ties with his native Turkmenistan and [à] his friendship with former Gazprom leader Rem Viakhirev”according to Reuters.

At the turn of the 2000s, Itera found itself at the center of the attention of the American media on several occasions. The company is notably accused of having concluded a dubious lobbying contract in the amount of 500,000 dollars (465,000 euros) with the daughter of a Republican deputy, Curt Weldon. Other scandals linked to accusations of gas market manipulation and troubled links with Gazprom have tarnished the reputation of the group, which nevertheless remains powerful.

After the Russian giant Gazprom obtained a monopoly on Russian gas exports in 2006, Mr. Makarov, in difficulty, still managed to stay in the small papers of Vladimir Putin, with whose support he launched the cycling team Katusha in 2008. At the same time, he diversified the activities of his group, which specializes in particular in construction and carries out major projects in Russia, Belarus and Turkmenistan.

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Forced in 2013 to sell the oil and gas branch of Itera to the Russian oil company Rosneft, Mr. Makarov is undeterred. Thanks to the billions of dollars he obtained from this transaction, he launched new investments and restructured his group, which he renamed Areti (“Itera” backwards), with economic interests “in Central Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada and the Middle East”asserts to Monde the group’s communications department.

Instinct de conservation

Flair, self-preservation and discretion: these seem to be the watchwords of Mr. Makarov’s career as a businessman. Ingredients that he mixes just as well during his parallel journey of « velocrat “, according to the expression of the newspaper The teamwhich describes the oligarch as “a formidable man of power, who refuses the slightest mark of impropriety towards him”.

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