Russian billionaire to set up magazine for snobs

MOSCOW Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:46am EDT

A passer-by walks near a house at a construction site outside Moscow, October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

A passer-by walks near a house at a construction site outside Moscow, October 26, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Natruskin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's super-rich love to flaunt their wealth. Soon they will have a magazine called Snob to help them.

Mikhail Prokhorov -- whose wealth is estimated at around $22 billion -- plans to spend $150 million setting up a magazine, website and television station called Snob, the general director of the new venture told Reuters on Wednesday.

"It's for people who are successful and those who want to be successful," said Andrei Shmarov, who will run Snob.

Prokhorov, 42, made his fortune in the chaotic 1990s when businessmen bought up parts of former Soviet industries for a fraction of their real value.

The Forbes Rich List ranked Prokhorov as the 24th richest person in the world. He is one of the owners of Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest nickel producer, and Polyus Gold, Russia's biggest gold producer.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary's online edition, www.askoxford.com, a snob is: "A person who has an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth and who looks down on those regarded as socially inferior".

Shmarov said Russians attach a different meaning to the word,

"Snob to us means a person who is a 'self-made man', a person who has gained a right to snobbishness," he said emphasizing the main difference with the British meaning which he said referred to inherited wealth.

Russia has become rich over the last few years due to a boom in commodity and energy prices. No extravagance is too much in Moscow where the super-rich hold wild caviar and champagne parties in exclusive nightclubs behind fur-lined curtains.

Their chauffeurs loiter on street corners smoking cigarettes and polishing European and American luxury cars at the same time that about 20 percent of Russia's population live below the poverty line and many grumble about the growing divide.

"It's not pleasant to boast about your wealth when you have inherited it but when you have made it yourself, well it is still not very nice, but it is justified," Shmarov said.

The unmarried Prokhorov attracted headlines in 2007 when French police detained him in the ski resort of Courchevel. They detained him briefly as part of probe into prostitution. The police later released him without charges.

Snob's magazine and website, which will focus on lifestyle features, business news and travel, will be available from this summer, Shmarov said, with the cable television channel following shortly.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

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