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Sistema: The power behind the phone

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In the new Russian business elite that will emerge after next year's presidential election, one man is assured of being at or close to the apex - Vladimir Yevtushenkov, chairman of Moscow-centred holding company Sistema. Yevtushenkov is a long-time friend and political campaign manager of Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow's powerful mayor, who is likely to be in the running if the job of president or prime minister comes vacant after June next year. Sistema is widely regarded as the main vehicle for financing Luzhkov's campaign.

But Yevtushenkov's ambitions for Sistema extend far beyond the political arena. "Our goal is to enter the list of the world's top-500 companies," he says in a rare interview. With the patronage of Luzhkov, who many believe is a major shareholder in the company, there is good reason to take him at his word.

Sistema has over 100 companies in its group, with 50,000 employees. Telecommunications has become the core of the business - with MGTS and MTS dominant in fixed-line and mobile telephony in Russia's capital.

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