MOSCOW — As the coronavirus pandemic gained tempo in Russia this spring, a billionaire metal magnate, Aleksei A. Mordashov, referred to as 4 regional governors and urged them to lock down the cities the place he operates.

For Andrei A. Guryev, the scion of a fertilizer empire, limiting journey into two Arctic cities of 80,000 individuals the place he runs a phosphate mine was even simpler. His firm owns the airport and the native ski resort that draws outsiders.

“We shut them down,” Mr. Guryev mentioned. “The decision was ours alone.”

The affect of the Russian enterprise tycoons often known as oligarchs waned early this century as President Vladimir V. Putin consolidated energy, remodeling them from warring clans to fantastically wealthy households depending on the Kremlin’s benevolence.

Now, the coronavirus disaster presents them with one other turning level: the best financial menace in many years, coupled with an infinite stress check for the state that makes their wealth potential.

And so the oligarchs, with hundreds of thousands of workers and dozens of Russian cities reliant on their enterprises, have turn into central figures within the nationwide response to the pandemic.

Russia has reported over 177,000 coronavirus circumstances and greater than 1,600 deaths. Roughly half the circumstances are in Moscow, suggesting that the remainder of the nation remains to be within the early levels of the pandemic.

With native well being methods buckling, many oligarchs are deploying hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of their very own money, together with their firms’ logistics and procurement capability, to struggle the unfold of the sickness, whereas urging slow-moving regional authorities to behave with extra resolve.

In the method, they’re revealing the Russian state’s weaknesses, and the way a lot Mr. Putin’s system of governance nonetheless depends on casual alliances with highly effective enterprise tycoons. The depth of their coffers additionally places the oligarchs in place to outlast the pandemic — unlike Russia’s reeling small and midsize businesses — meaning that their influence is poised to grow in coming years.

Mr. Mordashov told regional governors that they should “organize restrictive measures as quickly as possible” and offered his company’s help, said Alexander Shevelev, Severstal’s C.E.O.

Severstal gave respirator masks to the police and delivered mobile housing units to quarantine checkpoints. It drafted company employees to join the police on patrols. Its software engineers designed a service to allow the city to monitor quarantine compliance. It said it was procuring 20 ventilators for city hospitals and set aside corporate housing to isolate anyone arriving in the city.

The Kremlin’s limited relief measures so far have offered little aid to people who are out of work, sparking growing discontent. But in Cherepovets, Severstal has mounted its own emergency relief effort. The company said it would give residents who lost income due to the crisis grocery store gift certificates of about $80 each for every household member. Russia’s minimum wage is about $160 per month.

“We are responsible for the social stability of the regions where we are present,” Mr. Shevelev said.

The close involvement of oligarchs in Russia’s coronavirus fight sheds light on their unwritten contract with the Kremlin. Staying in Mr. Putin’s good graces has helped them profit enormously from Russia’s immense natural-resource wealth. Despite years of sanctions and economic stagnation, Russia still has 99 billionaires, according to Forbes, the fifth-most of any country.

But the oligarchs are also expected to open their coffers to support Mr. Putin’s broader goals, like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In fact, the oligarchs who have remained in business in Russia since Mr. Putin’s rise have so closely integrated their operations with the state that they are sometimes described not as private businessmen but as division managers in a larger enterprise, “Russia Inc.”

In past years, Western officials blamed some oligarchs for lending a helping hand in election meddling and military ventures abroad, operating as a shadow hand of the state. Now, the pressing need is controlling the virus.

In March, the owners of Alfa Bank, Russia’s biggest private bank, donated $13 million to fight the pandemic. The money did not go to charity, but directly to the Russian government’s coronavirus task force.

“In Russia, the business community — especially big business — traditionally carries out more of a social function than it does in the West,” said Vladimir V. Verkhoshinsky, Alfa Bank’s C.E.O.

But many executives have found that donating money is not enough, underscoring the weakness of the country’s health system and casting an unflattering light on the Russian government’s lackluster response. On March 14, when Russian officials were still widely playing down the coronavirus threat, Mr. Deripaska called on the government to close the borders and implement a 60-day quarantine. It would be more than two weeks until a nationwide, partial lockdown went into effect.

“It’s necessary to relieve the government of some of its headache,” Mr. Potanin told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

One reason the oligarchs’ role is central to Russia’s response is that around 10 percent of the population lives in far-flung “monotowns” like Norilsk that are dominated by a single employer or industry. They are also involved with some of the large, remote construction sites that have emerged as some of the country’s biggest outbreak hot spots.

For example, more than 1,900 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Arctic village of Belokamenka, the place the vitality large Novatek is constructing a liquefied pure fuel provide base with 1000’s of employees crowded into barracks.

In the Arctic monotowns of Kirovsk and Apatity, Mr. Guryev, the fertilizer magnate, scrambled to prevent an outbreak when a man who arrived from Cuba tested positive in March. Mr. Guryev dispatched the company jet to pick up 100 testing kits and a specialist, and flew them 1,000 miles to Apatity to examine the patient’s contacts.

Mr. Guryev’s company, PhosAgro, also said it had bought ambulances, ventilators and personal protective equipment for the medical workers. In some cases, Mr. Guryev said, the public sector cannot act with the necessary urgency — “for them, it’s a bureaucratic process.”

“For us it’s a same-day decision, often it’s my own personal decision,” Mr. Guryev said. “Buying those tests — I dealt with it personally. I personally dealt with the P.P.E. and I personally dealt with the ventilators, because all this had to be done yesterday.”

Oleg Matsnev and Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting.

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