This really interesting perspective by Anne Applebaum is published by The Atlantic. Here is an exerpt:
In 2015, Daniel Obajtek was the county commissioner of Pcim, a tiny district south of Kraków and north of the Polish-Slovak border. “County commissioner” is perhaps a grand-sounding title, but I can’t find a better one. In Polish, the term for the job he held is wójt, an old-fashioned word that means something like “village headman.” It signifies that you run something very small. Pcim, population 4,900, is very small.
Today, Obajtek is the chief executive officer of PKN Orlen, the largest company in central Europe. Orlen runs oil refineries and gas stations in multiple countries, owns a range of energy assets, and is listed on the Fortune 500. It is also, in practice, a state company: Although traded on the stock exchange, its largest shareholder is the Polish state treasury, which means that the Polish government gets to name its CEO. Obajtek was the choice of the current ruling party, the Law and Justice party, and he has done well out of this decision. His personal wealth recently became a major news story in Poland (at least among independent, nongovernment media) because it now includes, among other assets, 38 properties, including houses, apartments, parcels of land, even a seaside pensjonat.
He says he acquired this real-estate empire legally, but the speed with which he did so has raised eyebrows, though it probably should not have. Obajtek is an oligarch, and in the hybrid democratic-autocratic political systems now emerging around the world, many newly minted oligarchs make their money at an extraordinary pace.
Read the full story here.