THE RISE & FALL OF THE RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS PART 2 OF 3
Business oligarch is a near-synonym of the term "business magnate". The choice of the word oligarch denotes the significant influence such wealthy individuals may have on the life of a nation. However, in modern Russia it is very common to apply this term to any business tycoon, regardless of whether or not he has real political power. The term came into wide circulation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in reference to those individuals who acquired tremendous wealth in some post-Soviet republics.
The Russian oligarchs are business entrepreneurs who started under Gorbachev during his period of market liberalization. Rare goods, such as PCs and jeans, were smuggled into the country and sold on the black market for a hefty profit, an unforeseen consequence of partial market liberalization with still excessive trade restrictions. In the 1990s, the oligarchs emerged as well connected entrepreneurs who started from nearly nothing and got rich through participation in the market via connections to the corrupt, but democratically elected, government of Russia during the state's transition to a market-based economy.
Post-Soviet business oligarchs includes relatives or close associates of government officials, even government officials themselves as well as criminal bosses who achieved vast wealth by acquiring state assets very cheaply (or for free) during the privatization process controlled by the Yeltsin government. Specific accusations of corruption are often levelled at Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar, two of the 'Young Reformers' chiefly responsible for 'shock therapy' privatization in the early 1990's.