Piotr Galitzine, chairman
of Ipsco Tubulars Inc. and NS Group Inc., has another title
prince. And like any nobleman worth his salt, Prince Galitzine
can trace his family's history back more than six
Galitzine's clan, which originated in
the city of Novgorod in northwest Russia, recently held its
first global family reunion, including a celebration of 675
years as Russians and 600 years as Muscovites.
"We were a little bit forced to come to
Moscow because Ivan the Terrible destroyed our army-so we
become Muscovites unwillingly," Galitzine said. But no
matter-any excuse to get the family together is a good one, he
Galitzine's family is originally from
Lithuania-"back when Lithuania was a big, important
country"-and stretched from the North Sea to the Black Sea, he
said. As part of the royal line in Lithuania, male heirs later
became princes in Russia.
While Galitzine's family roots might be
in Lithuania, he is firmly committed to philanthropic
enterprises in his not-so-recently adopted homeland. As
chairman of the board of trustees of the Village Church of
Russia, Galitzine works to conserve provincial churches, many
of which were destroyed during Soviet times.
"In post-Soviet Russia, the money that
started to appear in the second half of the '90s, when it was
invested in churches at all, was invested mostly in churches in
cities and in places where that investment would have the
necessary PR impact," he said. "The province always got the
short end of the stick, so we work on churches exclusively in
the province that are on the verge of falling apart."
The group has worked on approximately
44 churches. But the Soviets destroyed roughly 70,000 churches,
"so we still have a way to go."
Restoration work generally starts with
mountain climbers cutting trees and bushes out of cupolas. The
organization then provides heavy equipment and scaffolding for
structural work like restoring roofs. But local people
generally provide the manpower for cleaning out the churches.
In one church, they hauled away four tractor loads of cow
bones. "It's not a top-down project, it's a bottom up, which
gives it a very grassroots flavor," he said.
In many churches, the bell towers
remained standing because people were afraid of pulling them
down on top of themselves. And the oldest part of the
church-the structure under the dome-often was left largely
intact thanks to traditional masonry practices that involved
using egg whites to make mortar. "The gluing effect is so
strong, that basically you cannot tear those churches apart,"
With limited resources, the group's
efforts focus mainly on making the churches weatherproof so
that people can again pray in them protected from the elements.
The cost for a new roof, windows and doors about $35,000 to
$45,000 per church, he said. "We don't go in for golden domes,
we don't go in for marble floors and we don't go in for stained
glass windows. We just do what it takes to make the church
weather-tight and usable again."
But on some occasions, the group does a
full restoration, which can cost five times more than the
typical project. For example, the Nikitskaya Church, in the
Konakovo district of the Tver region, was fully restored. Its
restoration was paid for by a friend of Galitzine whose son was
killed in a traffic accident not far from the church and was
buried in the church's cemetery "back when the church consisted
of two and a half walls," he said. "He made a promise to his
son that he would rebuild that church."
Funding for the projects come from
local communities, personal donations from further afield and
from groups like the Paul Klebnikov Fund. Klebnikov, the first
editor of Forbes Russia, was gunned down in Moscow in
2004. The fund was set up by his widow to promote civil
society, journalism and cultural heritage.
Galitzine also is involved in the
Russian Women's Micro-Finance Network, which aims to lift women
in the provinces out of poverty with small loans to help them
start small businesses. The project is modeled on the work of
2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus. Similar
projects have been applied successfully across the world, he
said, noting that the group has loaned out about $100 million
over the past 12 years. Many of the loans involve just $2,000
for three-month periods. Some of the women use the loans to buy
sewing machines to start small businesses or open kiosks to
sell flowers. And unlike men, women rarely fail to pay back the
loans, he said, and less than 1 percent are late in meeting
Sweden's Svenskt Stal AB (SSAB) in
March agreed to sell its North American Tubulars unit-Ipsco
Tubulars Inc.-to Evraz Group SA in a deal valued at about
$4.025 billion (AMM, March 14). At the same time,
Russian steelmaker Evraz entered a deal to sell the U.S.
portion of Ipsco's tubular and seamless business-including some
assets of the former NS Group Inc.-to OAO TMK, Russia's largest
tubular player, for approximately $1.2 billion. TMK also has an
option, exercisable in 2009 for approximately $500 million, to
buy the remaining 49 percent of NS Group from Evraz.