“The Pool” is a cross-border investigation showing how Vladimir Yakunin, the former head of Russian Railways, assembled a network of fiduciaries, lawyers and lobbyists to siphon cash into private hands while exerting political pressure in Western democracies.

This network has been subject to many unsuccessful investigations and connected with a number of unsolved deaths. The story reveals the mechanisms that a second generation of Russian oligarchs are using to pass as legitimate businessmen, unchallenged by Western authorities.

Since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Yakunin has been sanctioned in the United States and Australia. In 2022, he was sanctioned in the United Kingdom.

But in Europe, he received a very different welcome: in Germany, he received a visa in 2018 to run a think tank in Berlin. In Switzerland, he founded several foundations and uses them to defend Russia’s conservative, orthodox traditions, including anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ causes in America. In London, his son Andrey Yakunin — who holds British citizenship — established a successful private equity fund and owns houses and yachts. 

The investigation shows not how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s people support him in war, but perhaps something more deadly: the apparatus they use to export wealth and undermine the fabric of Western democracies quietly, without weapons.

“The Pool” is an investigation about the origin of and strategy behind Putin’s aggression. It shows the work that goes on in the shadows, far from the front line, to export corruption as an instrument of national strategy, asserting the malign influence of the Russian state abroad.

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