Alfred Kokh served as deputy prime minister under Boris N. Yeltsin. An author, publisher, mathematician-economist, business leader and Russian insider with varied, sometimes provocative, perspectives on the political and economic scene in Russia today, Kokh was an ally of economic reformer Anatoly Chubais, a chief architect of Russia's privatization.
In 1996, Mr. Kokh was appointed head of Russia's State Property Committee, acting as Russia's privatization chief. In 2000, he became head of Gazprom-Media and oversaw the gas giant's controversial takeover of NTV, an independent television company. He resigned from that post in 2001. He also served as head of the 2003 election campaign staff for the Union of Right Forces, a pro-business, democratic party of young reformers including Yegor Gaidar, Boris Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada, the first woman to run for the Russian presidency.
Mr. Kokh is the author of the 2006 Russian bestseller A Crate of Vodka, which he co-wrote with liberal journalist and friend Igor Svinarenko, literally over a crate of vodka. In the book, the two provoke each other as they probe the twenty years that saw the collapse of Communism and the rise of democratic Russia. Chechnya and freedom of speech are some of the issues the two cover in a lively exchange born of the Russian tradition of talk, food and drink confined to the privacy of one's own kitchen. A Crate of Vodka will be published in the United States in May 2009.
Mr. Kokh contributes to initiatives in history, education, the arts, pediatric health and sports. He gave more than $100,000 for Denial of the Denial, a book featuring original research that scientifically disproves so-called evidentiary proof against the Holocaust. It was released on the 60th anniversary of the formation of the state of Israel. Mr. Kokh also funds an annual Russian prize in mathematics; the work of independent filmmakers (his current project focuses on a famed popular uprising after the Bolshevik revolution); a monument to Tsar Alexander II, the leader who emancipated the serfs; organizations that fund pediatric heart surgery; and youth wrestling competitions across Russia.
Mr. Kokh has a doctorate in economics from the St. Petersburg Mathematics and Economics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He has lectured at Columbia University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Los Angeles and Berkeley, Pomona College and St. Antony’s College at University at Oxford. In addition, he has spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and is currently working with The Atlantic Council toward improving Western-Russian relations.