The Friends Of Vladimir
Things are going swimmingly for Swedish telecom giant Telia as it rapidly gains access to provide mobile coverage in Russia. Over the last six months, it has acquired stakes in Russian companies that hold mobile- phone licenses covering over two-thirds of this vast nation. Credit that remarkable progress to an invaluable connection: Telia has hooked up with Telecominvest, a St. Petersburg telecom-holding company founded in 1994 by two longtime friends of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, himself a St. Pete native. One of the founders, Leonid D. Reiman, 43, is now Putin's Communications Minister; the other, Valery N. Yashin, 59, is the head of Svyazinvest, Russia's state-controlled telecom giant--as well as chairman of Telecominvest.
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