Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: What is an oligarch anyway?
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SALT LAKE CITY — Think back to your eighth-grade civics class. Remember, when we learned about the different forms of government? There was democracy, monarchy, aristocracy, autocracy, and then oligarchy.
Our textbooks described oligarchy as “when a small group of people has control of a country.” It comes from the ancient Greek word oliigoi which means “few.”
Can you use it in a sentence?
Many Americans are surprised to learn that Russia isn’t controlled by Vladimir Putin alone. He has henchmen. Back in the 1990’s when Russia was like the wild wild west, ruthless businessmen tried to grab everything they could. They muscled and murdered competitors, and those who hitched their wagon to Vladimir Putin wound up controlling entire industries.
Banking, natural gas, precious metal production and the like. And as these thugs rose to power, their deal with their gang leader was this: stay out of politics, and you can do whatever else you want.
So each oligarch made their billions and sent them overseas for safety. This is staggering. These men have squirreled away 85-percent of Russia’s gross domestic product. So 85 out of every 100 dollars produced by the Russian economy leaves the country.
It pays for all these private jets and luxury yachts and prime real estate in London and New York. When you hear about a $50 million dollar condo in New York City, chances are it’s owned by a Russian oligarch.
And now they can’t use their toys.
The hope is that the oligarchs turn on their President who got them into the Ukrainian mess.
Listen to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. for more of his “My Minute of News.” And check out the podcast below.