Russia is the biggest country on earth where there is more oil and gas than virtually anywhere else. Surging energy and metal prices made Moscow the billionaire capital of the world. Now oil prices are plunging and stock prices are in freefall. Russian is on the brink of economic collapse.
Just recently Russia sat on a huge pile of cash - the third largest in the world - but now the country is in crisis. Moscow's main stock exchange, the RTS, is down over 70% from its high and it's closed almost as often as it's open.
In 1998, Russia defaulted on its debt, devalued its currency and many Russian citizens lost their savings overnight. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia James Collins says there was a thought that they could protect themselves and separate themselves from what happened in the global economy. Well, in the end, they couldn't.
This time, Russians are preparing for the worst... pulling their money out of banks. They're using cash to buy cars, flat screens - anything expensive. Most believe anything tangible is safer than trusting a bank.
Russia is a land of extremes. There are more billionaires there than anywhere else in the world. And, with more than 100,000 millionaires, Moscow holds the annual millionaires fair an event that not even the financial crisis could kill this year.
These very rich men are closely linked to the Russian government as partners in privatizing Russia's vast oil and minerals companies. They consolidated their power in the country's financial crisis a decade ago since then they've been running the show.
Oligarch Roman Abramovich was a high school dropout who made his money in oil clocking in at $24 billion on the Forbes list. Abramovich even acts like one of Russia's most famous stars Peter the Great, founder of the Russian Navy. He has a fleet of yachts nicknamed Abramovich's Navy.
Oleg Deripaska went to Moscow State and worked in construction during the fall of the Soviet Union. A few years later, in typical oil-agarch fashion, he suddenly emerges as the richest man in Russia worth $28 billion and running the world's biggest aluminum company, Rusal. What remains of his fortune is unclear following Russia's market crash.
Russia's economically fragile power comes with an arsenal of more than 3-thousand nuclear warheads and authoritarian rule. Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi visited Moscow this fall for the first time in nearly a quarter century to buy weapons and link Africa's largest oil reserves to Russia.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's approval rating skyrocketed during the recent Georgia war, peaking at 90 percent. A spokesman for Putin, says the government will do whatever it takes to prevent the current economic crisis from spiraling into collapse.
One project of great national pride is the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. It will be the country's first games since the fall of the U.S.S.R. Early estimates put the cost of the games at $12 billion dollars with the government agreeing to pay 60 percent.
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