Saturday, November 12, 2011

One year later, rethinking the Prokhorov-sponsored "Global Russian" phenomenon

Journalist/editor W.P. Norton, in Rediscovering Russian America (also published on the website of the Institute of Modern Russia), questions the term “Global Russians,” associated with the orbit of billionaire entrepreneur/Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his magazine Snob (an acronym):
The term itself was originally coined to describe the affluent, intercontinental target audience of Snob magazine, a hardcopy-slash-Internet-enabled journal created in 2008. Snob, a media platform with offices in Moscow, London and New York City, was created for Prokhorov by such top-flight Russian editorial talent as Vladimir Yakovlev and Masha Gessen.
Interestingly, Russians themselves disagree heatedly when it comes to defining the concept.
And it turns out, according to Norton, the journalist who coined the term, Michael Idov, has left Snob and has distanced himself from the concept.:
Just last year, Idov wrote about the Global Russian phenomenon in a New York Magazine article entitled “Klub Prokhorov”, a reference to Muscovite billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who indirectly kick-started the concept when he financed Snob, for whom Idov also used to write...
It was at Idov’s behest that [Vas] Sloutchevsky and two-dozen other New York Russians sat for a photo to illustrate “Klub Prokhorov.” It almost seems like the photograph was manufactured to confirm Idov’s point of view: “That photo gives a false impression that we are a tight-knit community,” Sloutchevsky says. 
Prokhorov and Baryshnikov

The new article falls back on citing Idov's analysis last year of two photographs, involving two famous Russians:
“In most respects, Prokhorov and [Mikhail] Baryshnikov couldn’t be more different,” Idov continues. “But seeing the two Russians flanked by such iconic New York figures had the same effect on me. [Both] pictures helped make me feel like I belong in New York, like my life, and those of my countrymen, is bigger somehow than it was back home.”
In my 5/30/10 post, I suggested some contrasts. Baryshnikov rose through stupendous talent and drive.

Prokhorov has brains, talent and (clearly) drive, but his vast wealth tracks back significantly to his insider's deal to buy Norilsk Nickel, a process a prominent Russian journalist described to 60 Minutes as "rigged." (Without that deal, he wouldn't have been in a position to make a killing when he sold his shares.)

In buying into the Atlantic Yards project--80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena operating company--Prokhorov also gains from an insider's real estate deal. Maybe that makes him a certain kind of New Yorker, as well.

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