Meet Mikheil Khubutia – Putin’s Favorite Georgian Billionaire
26 December, 2014
Meet Mikheil Khubutia – Putin’s Favorite Georgian Billionaire
“He is also always welcome on the Kremlin’s doorstep, something very few Georgian businessmen can boast, and as he himself stated, is a favorite of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.” “He is always welcome on the Kremlin’s doorstep, something very few Georgian businessmen can boast, and as he himself stated, is a favorite of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”

He never talks about business, preferring instead to assume the role of an influential political figure. As head of the Georgian Union in
Russia, he talks a lot of Georgian-Russian relations, time-tested brotherhood of the two peoples, cultural ties, supplementing his bombast with frequent invitations from Georgian singers to perform in Moscow.

Khubutia has been involved in Russian real estate business in since 1999, but he his name is not mentioned in any ratings or rankings. Moreover, in Russia he is one of the few billionaires who know precisely when to cross the thin line separating business from government.

He is also always welcome on the Kremlin’s doorstep, something very few Georgian businessmen can boast, and as he himself stated, is a favorite of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Whenever Khubutia is asked to tell his life story, he always begins with the claim that he was born a Georgian but later became Russified. “I eat oatmeal porridge for breakfast and drink juice instead of wine,“ he claims. “I am a Russian at heart and have nothing of Georgian mentality left in me. All my friends are here” – claimed Khubutia in one of his interviews on Russian TV.

The future businessman and head of the Georgian Union ended up in Russia as a result of his military service, which placed his regiment close to Moscow. The young man quickly realized what riches 80-90-s Russia could yield and decided to stay.

By the middle of the 90’s, Mikheil Khubutia was already firmly entrenched into the ranks of Moscow’s business elite. This was the period when he started dealing in arms, opening a gun shop named “Kolchuga” (Chainmail) – a hard business to start without having proper connections, especially in Russia. Over 15 years, “Kolchuga” grew to include 24 shops, and currently it can claim credit for over 50 percent of foreign-produced hunting and sports firearms sold in Russia altogether. Ernst & Young Audit Company has declared the store network’s annual turnover to exceed $250 million.

“All doors are open to him - nothing interferes with Mikheil Khubutia’s business in Russia”

The businessman himself lives in the center of Moscow. Despite having inherited homes in Tbilisi and Batumi, most of his property is located in Russia, where besides several houses Khubutia owns 320 hectares of woodlands, which serve as a lucrative hunting ground. They are often visited by his guests – Joseph Kobzon, Yuri Luzhkov and Zurab Tsereteli. Nothing interferes with Mikheil Khubutia’s business in Russia; doors of all geotv.geinfluential movers and shakers are always open to him.

Besides being friends with Russian elite, 47-year-old Khubutia has plentiful “pastures” in Russia, owning massive commercial objects such as “Gostiniy Dvor” hotel at Manejnaya Square, his network of weapons stores “Kolchuga” and the eponymous restaurant network, with several other hotels and apartment blocks currently under construction. A large variety of structures in Moscow’s most elite and prestigious districts are built or being built by the company belonging to Khubutia. Eka Janashia, the businessman’s spouse, also refuses to be left out when it comes to business, holding control over his restaurant network.

No stranger to Russian politics, he joined the Communist Party, later becoming a member of “United Russia”. Loyalty to the ruling party is probably the reason why today Mikheil Khubutia has many friends in high places. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, for example, is one of his partners. As Russian media sometimes claims, Khubutia is interested in everyone and everything that might bring him profit.

If we take a look at Mikheil’s property, we will probably have to agree with the above statement – 50 percent of his income comes from hotel business and investments in Moscow, Adler and Sochi, 25 percent from construction, 20 percent from arms dealing and 5 more from management of commercial structure. In total, his wealth was estimated to be at $1.5 billion several years ago.

By Ana Tskrialadze, Business Press News
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