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The insider
The insider
Vladimir Potanin, 47, Interros

With a father in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade, Potanin started off connected. He initially followed his dad's lead into government, then moved into industry, using $10,000 to start a foreign-trade association that grew into his Interros holding company. Interros acquired mining concern Norilsk Nickel with now former partner Mikhail Prokhorov. Norilsk has proved full of intrigue: With Oleg Deripaska beating down the door in an attempt to gain more control of Russia's largest nickel operation, it is rumored that Potanin has entered into negotiations with, among others, Viktor Vekselberg, to form an alliance that ultimately could help outmaneuver Deripaska. But it may be Potanin's political power plays that are most interesting. This one-time first deputy prime minister under Yeltsin has also managed to stay in Putin's good graces and is a leading builder of infrastructure (along with rival Deripaska) for the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi.

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Last updated September 09 2008: 7:52 AM ET
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