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London may get a sharp taste of Russia's financial crisis
London may get a sharp taste of Russia's financial crisis as the country's billionaires see their paper wealth tumble along with Russian stock markets, The Times newspaper reported Saturday.

London has become a second home for many Russian oligarchs, who own multimillion-dollar homes in the city and surrounding counties, but the paper says new purchases are unlikely for the immediate future.

"Analysts familiar with Russia's leading businessmen believe that they will hold on to these as a way of keeping wealth outside of the Kremlin's control," the paper wrote. "However, estate agents in Chelsea and Kensington are unlikely to see many Russian buyers in the coming months."

The Bloomberg news agency estimated Friday that Russian billionaires lost more than $230 billion in the last five months.

The agency arrived at the figure by looking at stock-market falls for the known assets of the 25 richest Russians, as listed by Forbes magazine.

Oleg Deripaska, the richest Russian on the list, lost more than $16 billion according to Bloomberg, as his Basic Element holding company gave up stakes in Hochtief AG and Magna International Inc. Chelsea owner and former Chukotka governor Roman Abramovich "lost $20 billion, based on assets excluding property and cash," the agency said.

Russia's stock markets have been hit particularly hard by the financial crisis, with tens of billions of dollars being taken out of the country since the summer. The MICEX index has shed more than 60% of its value since peaking in May.

Russia's two stock exchanges, the MICEX and the RTS, did not open for full trading Friday on instructions from federal regulators following considerable falls at previous sessions.

President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia had taken sufficient steps to shore up the domestic financial market, describing the measures as "rather serious."

The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved Friday anti-crisis packages worth a total of $86 billion. The government has earmarked $50 billion of budget funds to banks and firms to refinance foreign debt, and some $36 billion to key banks in subordinated loans.

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