Obituary: Sergei Dubov

Sergei Leonidovich Dubov, publisher, businessman, entrepreneur: born Moscow 4 February 1943; married (one son deceased); died Moscow 2 February 1994.

SERGEI DUBOV was an entrepreneur, and a brilliant businessman. He created a publishing empire from scratch in only three years.

Born in Moscow in 1943, he graduated from the Moscow Polygraphic Institute in 1965, as an editor. He began his career working as an editor on the books programme at Ostankino Television, then moved to Knizhnoe Obozrenie ('Books Review'), a publisher's weekly where information on all new publications appears. Gorbachev's perestroika found him in the distribution department of Novoe Vremya ('New Times'), a magazine set up in 1943 as a fortnightly supplement to the daily Trud ('Labour'). From 1947 it became a weekly and had seven foreign editions. It was financed by party and trade-union money, and most of its foreign correspondents were one way or another connected with the KGB.

Dubov appeared on the business scene at the beginning of 1990 in an atmosphere of complete economic chaos. Everybody in Moscow journalism was surprised when he suddenly became the owner of the New Times building, a prime property on Pushkin Square, off the former Gorky Street, which houses two rival newspapers, Izvestia and Moscow News. He renamed it NT - New Times Centre of Information and Business, dismissed half the journalistic staff and one by one closed the NT offices abroad. One of the last correspondents, who returned to Moscow in September 1992, was the London correspondent, Sergei Babusenko.

Dubov soon turned a propaganda sheet into one of the best news magazines. NT became, in January 1992, New Times Publishing House, with Dubov as president, publishing Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Complete Works in seven volumes in an edition of 2 million copies. He created a series of other businesses: Vita Centre, a paperback giant, publishing on cheap paper books by popular Western writers such as an 11-volume, 700,000-copy Complete Works of Erich Maria Remarque, a favourite writer in Russia. Next was Vsye Dlya Vas ('All For You'), a hugely successful advertising weekly printed in millions of copies and sold through Dubov's elaborate distribution network in 30 leading cities; and the English-language New Times International and Moscow Business Week.

Last summer I bought a copy in Moscow of his Who's Who in Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), an expensive hardcover publication compiled from information written by those listed in it. Dubov calculated correctly that they would be the first buyers. One I met had bought 100 copies.

In mid-1993 a series of new publications appeared on the market - Domashnii Advokat ('Your Own Lawyer'), Amour, a lonely hearts magazine, and We Offer, a monthly in English, French and Spanish, offering cheap Russian labour abroad.

By then Dubov was regarded as one of the leading entrepreneurs in Russia; his publishing empire was vast. He was a shadowy figure, never giving interviews. He had borrowed heavily, much of the money from dubious sources. With the rouble shrinking in value every week and sky-high interest rates he was in difficulties from the outset. He started receiving death threats by post and by telephone.

On Tuesday, two days before his 51st birthday, he was murdered. The future of his empire is now unpredictable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago