Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor (Вячеслав Моше Кантор) is a Russian billionaire, philanthropist, corporate leader, investor, entrepreneur and Jewish leader, well respected around the world. Kantor is vehemently opposed to nuclear proliferation and is a leading participant in global discussions about ways to prevent nuclear catastrophes in the world. He is passionately involved in numerous international initiatives dealing with the timely and complex issues of tolerance and reconciliation. Kantor has an impressive resume of corporate achievements, beginning from after the fall of the Soviet Union to the present. Unlike many of his peers, Kantor works quietly and diligently, acquiring significant assets and influence in the international marketplace. As of May, 2017, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor is estimated to have a net worth of USD $3 billion, placing him among the top 34 wealthiest men in Russia.
Early Life and Education
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was born in Moscow in 1953, where he was raised and obtained his elementary and secondary education. He attended the Moscow Aviation Institute, earning his degree in 1976. During his tenure as a student at the Institute, Kantor performed research for NPO Spektr, a supplier of gas services. Following graduation, he opened a computer trading company. Kantor received his PhD in Spacecraft Automatic Control Systems in 1981. He became the manager of a USSR space laboratory. His research at the laboratory led to the development of a special satellite that was able to use reflected light to illuminate the earth’s surface. Kantor went on to become Director General of Intelmas, a joint venture involved in intellectual systems and materials. He served in this capacity from 1989 to 1993. He was successful in bringing one of the first computer networks to the field in Russia, which was installed in various locations throughout the country, including the Academy of Sciences.
Career and Business Interests
Following the launch of his computer trading company, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was retained to conduct an environmental impact assessment at the Russian, state-owned fertilizer company Azot, which was headquartered in Novgorod. The plant was renamed to Acron and became private in 1993. At this time, he acquired a major stake in Acron Group. Under his leadership, Acron Group expanded its foothold in the fertilizer market, acquiring additional companies and adding capacity to enable the production of more than 40 different chemical products. In a very short period of time, Acron Group was able to rapidly increase its output to over 6.45 million tonnes per year and it has become one of the largest fertiliser producers in Russia.
During the time that Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was actively engaged in growing Acron Group, he also served, from 1996 to 2000, as chairman and economic advisor to the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly. Further, beginning in 2000, Kantor was president of the National Institute of Corporate Reform, which was a coalition of business leaders, politicians and scientists working together to develop and promote reforms to corporate best practices.
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor is the founder and head of a number of well-known organisations and advocacy committees. His leadership positions include President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), co-founder and President of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, co-founder and President of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), and founder and Chairman of the European Jewish Fund (EJF). Kantor also serves in leadership positions with the World Holocaust Forum Federation (WHFF), World Jewish Congress (WJC), where his is Chairman of the Policy Council and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).
Serving as a Global Change Agent
In his role as President of the European Jewish Congress, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor has built a world-wide reputation as an outspoken advocate against racism, especially anti-Semitism. He has been President of the EJC since 2007. The EJC is the representative organisation for more than 3 million Jews living throughout Europe. The EJC has a busy agenda of activities, including strengthening the national identity of European Jewry, fighting anti-Semitism, implementing a structure for the restitution of property stolen from the Jewish People during World War II, protecting the traditions of European Jewry, especially younger generations, and providing general support services for a large population of Jewish citizens. In 2005, he initiated the World Holocaust Forum Foundation whose mission is to preserve the memory of the Holocaust within the nations of the world and to prevent future tragedies. In the same year of its founding, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor launched an international forum in Krakow, Poland in recognition of 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau called, “Let My People Live!”. The forum became a catalyst for future events on significant dates related to the Holocaust. Kantor secured buy-in from all EU institutions, government leaders, and people of distinction throughout the world. The 2015 “Let My People Live!” took place in Prague and Theresienstadt, Czech Republic, with the participation of both the president of the EU and president of the Czech Republic.
Kantor co-founded the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation in 2008, where he serves as President. Former Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, serves as Chair. The mission of ECTR is to fight extremism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. ECTR monitors European nation states’ faithfulness to the principles of tolerance and democracy. It designs and disseminates employable tactics that government and international organizations can utilise to deal with interracial relations and cross-cultural communications. Under Kantor’s leadership, the ECTR composed a Model National Law for the Promotion of Tolerance, which will serve as the foundation from which to draft legislation to address racism throughout the European Union.
Kantor launched the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe in 2007. The Luxembourg Forum is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that facilitates dialogue between professionals engaged in nuclear non-proliferation. It has grown to become the largest nongovernmental organisation of its kind, bringing together in mutual dialogue the voices of experts on the subjects of non-proliferation, nuclear materials and delivery vehicles. Under Kantor’s leadership, the Luxembourg Forum is focusing on emerging threats such as the use of dirty bombs by terrorists as way to bring destruction across the European continent. The Forum’s founding followed a highly successful international conference of international experts from 14 countries around the globe who came together to establish a framework for confronting the dangers of nuclear proliferation and the very real possibility of nuclear threats from rouge nations around the world. Currently, the Luxembourg Forum, under the skilful leadership of Kantor, is working to develop credible strategies for dealing with the Iranian nuclear impasse and an increasingly hostile, nuclear focused North Korea.
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor launched the European Jewish Fund (EJF) in 2006 which supports education and leadership development programs designed to strengthen Jewish identity. EJF focuses primarily on young Jews, working to rebuild their connection to their history, culture and roots through a consortium of generation-relevant education programs, special functions and charitable projects. EJF hosts seminars and conferences, providing a platform for respectful dialogue on the topics of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, as well as a channel for the development of young leaders within the Jewish community.
The Kantor Centre for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry was founded in 2010. It is housed at Tel Aviv University, Israel. The Centre publishes an annual “Antisemitism Worldwide Report,” an internationally accepted report card of trends, causes and expressions of antisemitism around the world.
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor has originated many other initiatives that focus on building tolerance, such as a European academic centre that is researching the topic of tolerance for the purpose of developing real-life strategies to confront the issue. Kantor’s efforts have resulted in a global interdenominational dialogue on tolerance, as well as protecting human rights around the world.
Honours and Awards
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor’s professionalism and passionate work in the areas of racism and tolerance has earned him many honours and awards. He was named Honorary Citizen of Veliky Novgorod in recognition of his efforts in strengthening the city’s financial condition and improving the social and economic lives of its citizens. In 2013, he was awarded the Knight’s Grand Cross of the Order of Merit from Italy. In 2015, he received the Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour from France. Kantor was named Member of the Directorate for Yad Vashem in 2010. The Jerusalem Post has recognized Kantor as one of the “50 Most Influential Jews in the World” for eight consecutive years.
In addition to being an avid spokesman and advocate on a broad range of social issues, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor also gives of his personal time and financial resources to support a number of causes. For instance, following a damaging fire in 2013 at the Malovishersky psychoneurological nursing home located in Novgorod. The fire took the lives of 37 patients. Kantor not only launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the cost of upgrading and replacing equipment, but he personally provided funds to rebuild the nursing home and as well as to build a new community centre. Additionally, Kantor is a donor to Community Security Trust, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Kantor King Solomon School, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People. He is also a Member of the Royal Opera House Board of Directors.
Viatcheslav Kantor lives with his wife, Anna, and has five children, four sons and one daughter.