The Kremlin reportedly dipped into a fund to allow a prominent Jewish businessman and Kremlin confidante to pay his debts.
The Russian government set aside $2 billion for Mikhail Fridman and his holding company, the Alfa Group, that would allow him to pay Deutsche Bank AG, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Fridman, 44, is the first oligarch to receive funds from the account of funds stashed away from Russia’s windfall oil profits in recent years. Russia’s financial sector has not been immune to the global credit crisis, and market turmoil in recent weeks has led to jitters among Russia’s wealthiest.
The loan from the $50 billion fund would allow Fridman to maintain his stake in Russia’s biggest cell phone provider, Vimpel Communications.
Fridman and his Alfa partners founded a Jewish philanthropy group last year aimed at increasing Jewish identity among Russian speakers worldwide. The Genesis Philanthropy Group is still in its nascent stages.
Jews in the former Soviet Union are feeling unease that local funding for Jewish causes may be curtailed as oligarchs lose billions amid the global financial crisis.