AS the foremost chronicle of the capitalist world of American business, it is unlikely Forbes magazine has ever enjoyed a sizeable readership in Moscow.
Today, however, a copy can probably be found in every office of the Kremlin after Vladimir Putin wrested the title of the world’s most powerful person from President Barack Obama in the magazine’s influential ranking of global leaders of politics and industry.
After a year in which Russia stood up to the west over the Syrian crisis, the nation’s controversial president leapfrogged two places in the title’s latest assessment of the world’s elite, described as a list of the “72 people that matter from the 7.2 billion people on the planet.”
The publication said that while Mr Obama has been “handcuffed” by domestic politics, Mr Putin has consolidated his control over Russia and the global state.
The political figure who endured the greatest blow was Prime Minister David Cameron, who was not only displaced from the top ten, but the subject of a scathing analysis mocking the notion that he was once seen as Margaret Thatcher’s heir.
It was, though, the top of the list – now in its fifth year – that set tongues wagging.
Russia’s dominance in foreign policy areas, according to Forbes, nudged Mr Putin ahead of his US counterpart, with the magazine stating: “Anyone watching the chess match over Syria has a clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin.”
The 61-year-old’s sense of power manifested itself yesterday as the Kremlin issued a terse statement confirming that it had launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in a test exercise, the latest example of Russia’s military modernisation.
By contrast, Forbes said that while Mr Obama remained at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world thanks to the size and might of the US economy and military, he had endured a torrid time in office.
The magazine wrote: “His signature legislation, Obamacare, is under fire, US allies are outraged over NSA surveillance overseas and the government shutdown for 16 days in October begs the question: who’s in control here? It appears that President Obama’s lame duck period has set in earlier than usual for a two-term president, causing him to drop one notch from the number one spot.”
Elsewhere, the magazine criticised Mr Cameron for condemning the Guardian over the Edward Snowden whistleblowing affair, and said he suffered due to his “flip flop approach” to green taxes, having pledged to slash tax on household energy bills.
Placing the Conservative leader at number 11 in the list – the sole British representative – Forbes stated: “The Conservative PM guides the world’s sixth largest economy and was once hailed as the second coming of Margaret Thatcher. No more.”
By contrast, other movers and shakers in world politics were deemed to wield greater power according to the annual ranking, including Xi Jinping, the general secretary of China’s Communist Party, who rose six places, from nine in 2012 to three this year.
Once again the magazine declared German chancellor Angela Merkel the most powerful woman in the world, putting her at number five in the list, one place behind Pope Francis.
After political power, wealth was the greatest guarantee of entry to the exclusive club. Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates took the sixth place, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was at seven, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah at eight and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi at nine.
Overall, no less than 28 of the entries were billionaires, with a combined wealth in excess of £350 billion.
The full rankings are at www.forbes.com/power