America’s Richest Russian Yuri Milner Leaves Vladimir Putin After Ukraine War

Beginning in the early 2010s, getting an invite to Yuri Milner’s castle in Los Altos, California meant you were part of Silicon Valley’s most exclusive circles. Milner is known for placing what turned out to be hugely lucrative bets on Airbnb, Alibaba, Twitter, Facebook and other startups, and for being a prolific patron of science. He was friends with the late Stephen Hawking and is known to socialize with Mark Zuckerberg and actor Ed Norton. When Milner hosted a watch party for the HBO series WestworldGoogle co-founder Sergey Brin introduced himself.

Milner is also an extremely wealthy Russian who began his career in venture capital with the help of Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek-born metals magnate close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Most people who know Milner have ignored his connection to a pro-Putin oligarch. Milner’s business – early-stage technology investing – is a far cry from the world of Russian oligarchs who got rich by acquiring state assets at rock-bottom prices. And money from Usmanov, as well as the state-controlled VTB Bank PJSC, came under President Dmitry Medvedev, when the Obama administration called for a “reset” in Russian-US relations.

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