Earlier this month the Western press started to take notice of one of the Russia’s most successful entrepreneurs, Vladimir Dovgan. The 33-year-old car mechanic turned businessman realized that Russians have a yearning for home-grown products, but at the same time fear that domestic goods are of lower quality than imports. Dovgan came up with the idea of marketing himself as a seal of approval for Russian brands. He has put his face on some 280 different goods, from catsup to cola, earning an estimated $400 million in 1997. (Wall Street Journal, March 10, Novye izvestia, March 3)
Among the activities attracting attention was the business school for entrepreneurs which Dovgan opened in Moscow, which combined boot-camp discipline with careful study of Lee Iaccoca’s autobiography. However, last week it transpired that Dovgan’s empire is crumbling under a welter of lawsuits. Dovgan contracted out his name to "twenty or thirty" other companies, some of which have fallen into debt and are being sued by creditors. Dovgan is trying to cut his ties with his delinquent ex-partners, and has filed suit to try to stop three of the indebted companies from using his name — Dovgan, Dovgan Protected Quality and High-Quality Drinks. (Moscow Times, March 11)
Chechnya Fails to Free Hostages.