Abramovich lost his mother at the age of 18 months and his father, who was killed in a construction accident, at the age of four. He was raised by his paternal uncle in Komi and later by a second uncle in Moscow, both were very harsh and taught him how life is.
Abramovich attended the Industrial Institute in the city of Ukhta before being drafted into the Soviet Army. He began his business career selling plastic ducks from a grim Moscow apartment but, within a few years, Abramovich's vast wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms, and secured his place within Yeltsin's inner circle.
Post-Soviet Privatization, New Wealth and Political Career
Abramovich started his commercial activity in the late 1980s when Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms permitted the opening of small private businesses, known as co-operatives. In 1992-1995 Abramovich founded five companies that conducted resale and acted as intermediaries, eventually specializing in the trade of oil and oil products.
In July, 1992, the Moscow deputy prosecutor approved the questioning of Abramovich under article 90 of the Russian criminal code. This case was sent to Ukhta, Komi republic for further investigation. He was accused of stealing diesel fuel from an Ukhta enterprise worth 4,000,000 rubles. The investigation determined that this fuel was transported to Riga using forged documents (which said that the fuel was supposed to be delivered to the Army) and sold there. Abramovich was later cleared of wrongdoing.
Abramovich obtained the majority of his wealth thanks to assets acquired cheaply during president Boris Yeltsin's program of privatizing state companies in the mid-90's. With the help of his then-partner Boris Berezovsky, he became the majority shareholder in Sibneft, a major oil company. He later acquired aluminium assets from private owners and merged them with the metals assets of Oleg Deripaska to form Russian Aluminium, the world's second-largest aluminium producer.
Abramovich and Berezovsky acquired half their shares in Sibneft through the so-called "loans for shares" program, in which the state mortgaged and later sold shares in several major enterprises to obtain loans for the government. The other half of the company was privatized through a series of auctions in the mid-1990s.
In 1999 Abramovich was elected to the State Duma as the representative for the impoverished Far East region of Chukotka. He started the charity Pole of Hope to help the people of Chukotka, especially children, and in December 2000 was elected governor of Chukotka, replacing the corrupt Alexander Nazarov. Since then he has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Chukotka, for example building a college, a hospital, a pre-school and hotels in Anadyr, renovating the airport, and funding new or renovated schools in many small towns and villages. He has also used Chukotka as a tax haven for Sibneft, though the company re-invested most of its tax savings in the region and has been exploring for oil there as part of the governor's drive to boost the local economy. Abramovich said that he would not run for governor again after his term of office expired in 2005, as it is "too expensive" - and he rarely visits the region. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed the law to abolish elections for regional governors, and on 21 October 2005 Abramovich was reappointed governor for another term. In 2006 Abramovich used his power as governor to help out the explorer Karl Bushby who was deported from the region for border violations after walking from Alaska into Russia during his attempt to walk round the world.