Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin (Russian: Владимир Иванович Якунин; born June 30, 1948 in Melenki, Vladimir Oblast) is a Russian public figure, businessman and former president of Russian Railways (June 2005 – August 2015). In 2012 he was elected chairman of the Union of Railways (UIC) a position he held until 2015. In March 2014 he was placed on the US State Department's list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned in the wake the annexation of Crimea. After stepping down as head of Russian Railways he has continued to be engaged in public work as a founder and president of World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”. In October 2015 he started work on creating an international think tank focused on the search for solutions to help de-escalate tensions across the world.
Vladimir Yakunin was born in Melenki in Gus-Khrustalny District Vladimir Oblast. He lived with his family in Pärnu, Estonia, until he was 14, where his father was stationed with the USSR Border Troops. His mother worked as an accountant. In 1964 his father was demobilized and the family moved to Leningrad, the city Yakunin views to as his home town.
In 1972, Yakunin graduated from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute where he studied aircraft construction, and specialized in engineering and the maintenance of long-range ballistic missiles.
His career began in the State Institute for Applied Chemistry in Leningrad, where he worked from 1972 to 1975
In 1975, he joined the Soviet Army. After demobilizing in 1977, he worked as a senior engineer in the State Committee for International Trade of the Council of Ministers until 1982
From 1982-1985, he headed of the Foreign Relations Department at the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute
Between 1985 and 1991, Yakunin was part of the Soviet diplomatic mission to the United Nations, becoming the Mission's First Secretary in 1988.
Early in 1991 he left government service to become a businessman. He was appointed chairman of the board in the International Business Cooperation Center
In the early 1990s, Yakunin owned a dacha in Solovyovka, Priozersky district of Leningrad region, on the eastern shore of the Komsomol'skoye lake on the Karelian Isthmus near St. Petersburg. His neighbours there included Vladimir Putin, Andrei Fursenko, Sergey Fursenko, Yuriy Kovalchuk, Viktor Myachin, Vladimir Smirnov and Nikolay Shamalov. On November 10, 1996, together they set up the co-operative society Ozero covering their properties.
In 1997, he returned to the public sector, heading the Government Accountability Office’s Northwest Region Inspectorate.
From December 2000 to February 2002, Yakunin served as Deputy Transport Minister, under Transport Minister Sergey Frank, and was responsible for supervising merchant-fleet development and seaport business.
On February 8, 2002, he was appointed First Deputy to the new Railway Transport Minister Gennady Fadeev (Фадеев, Геннадий Матвеевич), a position he held until October 22, 2003.
On October 24, 2003, Yakunin was appointed Deputy Head of the Russian Railways headed by Gennady Fadeev, created out of the Ministry. On June 15, 2005, he was appointed Head of Russian Railways (Government Decree 786-r, June 14, 2005). He was later reappointed three times (Government Decree 843-r, June 12, 2008, Government Decree 987-r June 10, 2011, Government decree 1606-r, August 25, 2014).
On December 12, 2012 in Paris, the International Union of Railways General Assembly appointed Yakunin Chairman of the Union. He was unanimously reappointed on December 3, 2014 and continued to head it until his retirement.
Yakunin is also President of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations", an International NGO, registered in Vienna, Austria, which he co-founded with C.Kapur of India and N.Papanikolao from Greece/USA. World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" is an initiative to link people from different backgrounds,civilizations, traditions and religions. It organizes the annual Rhodes Forum on Dialogue of Civilizations.
- Since January 2006, Yakunin has been the Academic Supervisor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board for the Russian Academy of Sciences’ the Problem Analysis and Public Administration.
- In 2005, he successfully defended his thesis, which was on. "Developing Geostrategies in Present-Day Russia".
- He was awarded a Ph.D. in Political Science in 2007, after successfully defending his thesis “Process and Mechanisms involved in of National Policy Formation in Contemporary Russia”
- His published monographs include “Developing Geostrategies in Russia: The Transport Component” (2005), “Political Science of Transport: Measuring Transport Development in Terms of Politics” (2006), and “National Policy Formation in Present-Day Russia: Theoretical and Practical Issues” (2006).
- Since 2010, he has been Head of the State Policy Department at Moscow State University’s (MSU) Faculty of Political Science
- He is also visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics
- CIS, SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATION of the. "Dissertation: the Mechanism of working out of geostrategy in the modern Russian state (On an example of transportno-railway sphere) - Political institutes, ethnopolitical conflictology, national political processes and technologies - Political sciences". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
Social activities and charity
- The Member of the Supervisory Board, Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater.
- Chairman of the Committee of Trustees, Center of the National Glory of Russia and St. Andrew the First-Called' Foundation, which fund Orthodox Church-related projects.
- Chairman of Supervisory board, “Spread Your Wings” Children's Fund, established in 2007 to provide financial aid for orphansto children in state care, disabled and seriously ill children. His company sponsors the fund’s projects, including social adaptation programs for children in state care and those with disabilities, as well as adoption support.
- President of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and jury member at the Rhodes Youth Forum, organized by Youth Time.
- "Board of Trustees". Russkiy Mir Foundation.
- "Open lecture "Global geopolitical and geoeconomical transformations: a big war or a big breakthrough" by V.Yakunin". LinkedIn.
- "The World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" is an international, independent, non-governmental, non-profit organization. Management". WPFDC.org.
Honours and awards
- Order For Merit to the Fatherland, 4th class (June 16, 2008), for his outstanding contribution to the development of rail transport.
- Order of Honour (August 10, 2006), for his outstanding contribution to the development of rail transport.
- Medal "For the Development of Railways" (October 22, 2007) - for outstanding contribution to the development of rail transport.
- Medal for Battle Merit (USSR)
- Commander of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (June 14, 2002)
- Russian Railways’s Honorary Railwayman Badge (USSR)
- Order "For Services to Altai Krai," 1st class (September 25, 2009), for outstanding contribution to the socioeconomic development of the Altai Territory.
- Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria (Austria, 2011)
- Order "Danaker" (Kyrgyzstan, June 21, 2006) for his outstanding contribution to the development of economic relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation
- Order of Friendship (Azerbaijan, 2009) - for his outstanding contribution to the strengthening of cooperation and mutual relations between Azerbaijan and Russia
- Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy, June 9, 2011) for contributing to the development of cultural, economic, and political relations between Russia and Italy
- Order of Merit (Armenia) for significant contributions to the strengthening and development of cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation.
- Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2008)
- Order of St. Andrei Rublev, 1st class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2009)
- Order of St. Seraphim of Sarov, 2nd class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2005)
- Order of Al-Fahr, 1st class (Council of Muftis of Russia, 2008), for significant contributions to the development and strengthening of the idea of a dialogue of civilizations, and spreading the ideals of peaceful coexistence of peoples and religious traditions, as well as on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
- Order of St. Sava, 1st class (Serbian Orthodox Church, December 17, 2005), for supporting the fraternal relations with the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church
- Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, 2004) for his outstanding contribution to the dialogue of civilizations and peoples and the Pan-Orthodox prayer "Pray for peace in Jerusalem"
- Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius (Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, 2009) for his contribution to strengthening friendship between the peoples of Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
- Spain’s Order for Civil Merit in the Grand Cross Class (August 9, 2012) for outstanding achievements in strengthening bilateral relations between Russia and Spain
- Gold Medal of the association La Renaissance Francaise (June 25, 2012) for contributing to the development and consolidation of relations between France and Russia.
- Commander of the Order of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Antiochian Orthodox Church, 2010) - for his work for the Orthodox Church
- Order of St. Innocent, 2nd class (Orthodox Church in America, 2010)
- Certificate of Honour of the Russian Federation (June 30, 2008) for his great personal contribution to the efficient operation of rail transport
- Medal Paul Melnikov (Russian Ministry of Transport, 2005) - for his great personal contribution to the development of Russia’s transport infrastructure
- Medal "For assistance in Providing Special Programmes" (GUSP, 2009) - for the good organization of work on the implementation of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, "The Mobilization of the Russian Federation"
- Medal "90 years of the Transport Police" (Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety, 2009) for a significant contribution to the protection of public order, marking the 90th anniversary of the formation of transportationthe Interior Ministry’s Transport Police
- International Prize awarded by the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called “For Faith and Loyalty” (2000) - for his significant contribution to the formation of the Russian national identity and to the creation of the Centre of National Glory
- Award For Public Work Towards the Common Good, from the British organisation Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative.
- Laureate of a Russian Government prize in science and technology
- France’s highest distinction, the Legion of Honour
- The Order of Dostyk (Friendship) 2-nd class, Kazakhstan’s highest award
- The Stolypin Medal, First Degree
In October 2007, for his contribution to implementing reforms to Russian Railways’ rail transport development strategy, delivering constructive social policy and effective communication with the Russian Federal and local authorities, as well as with foreign railway administrations and international organizations, he was made a Russian Railways Honourable Railwayman.
On March 20, 2014, the United States government issued sanctions in response to what it saw as the Russian government’s role in ongoing unrest in Ukraine. The Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) imposes a travel ban to the United States, the freezing of all Yakunin’s U.S. assets, and a ban on business transactions between American citizens and corporations and Yakunin and any businesses he owns. The Australian Government announced on 19 March 2014 that it would impose a sanctions regime in response to the Russian threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Vladimir Yakunin was placed on Australia’s DFAT consolidated list on 19 June 2014, described as a ‘close personal and financial associate of Vladimir Putin’.
Retired from Russian Railways
In August 2015, media reports said Yakunin has retired as head of Russian Railways, but in October, further reports suggested he had been dismissed. Russian and British media have alleged that Yakunin’s dismissal was a direct result of his son Andrey Yakunin’s decision to apply for UK citizenship.
Sets Up International Think Tank
In October 2015 during the Rhodes Forum Yakunin announced that he was working on setting up an international think-tank. This think tank will be tasked with searching for solutions to pressing issues and developing proposals to reduce tensions worldwide.