Russian military entrepreneur sets up Malta base

Mind behind Russia’s next generation S-500 missile defence system, sets up Maltese firms

Igor Ashurbeyli today presides Russia’s advisory board on aerospace defence.
Igor Ashurbeyli today presides Russia’s advisory board on aerospace defence.

One of Russia’s foremost aerospace defence entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Igor Ashurbeyli, has set up a Maltese base for his Russian holding company Socium, which has on its payroll over 10,000 employees worldwide.

Ashurbeyli’s new companies, Socium-Malta and Socium-A, were set up with one of the Individual Investor Programme’s accredited agencies, although there is no indication that he will be applying for Maltese citizenship under the IIP’s €1.15 million scheme.

Ashurbeyli was until 2011 head of Russia’s military-industrial corporation Almaz-Antey, a conglomerate of some 46 national military enterprises and the world’s 12th largest defence contractor – in 2013 it had arms sales of $8.3 billion.

Perhaps his greatest claim to fame is spearheading the design of Russia’s most advanced surface-to-air missiles – the S-500 Samoderzhets (‘autocrat’), also known as the Triumfator-M.

The S-500 is a new generation missile intended at intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles, supplanting the S-400 once it goes out of service in 2016.

With a range of 400km, the S-500 can destroy up to 10 ballistic missiles at 18,000km per hour – characteristics similar to the United States’ Patriot Advanced Capability 3 complex.

Ashurbeyli has been described as a “true patriot and believer in the strong state” by Duma deputy Sergei Sobko from the Communist Party. 

Ashurbeyli was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. A systems engineering graduate of the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry, in 1988 he created Socium, a computer software firm. He moved the company to Moscow in 1990 to develop marketing information databases.

By 1994, Ashurbeyli was working his way up to the board of directors at Almaz before being appointed general director in 2000, becoming one of the most prominent figures in the Russian military-industrial complex. There he led modifications on the S-300 missile and developed the S-400.

He is credited with having reorganised the structure and finances of Almaz at a time when the corporation suffered from a funding shortfall.

Since 2011, he has chaired the Russian Federation’s advisory board on aerospace defence.