The founder of a leading algorithmic fund in Russia pulled out a bottle, drank to the “death” of the country’s stock market and said he planned to pivot to a career as a dress-up Santa Claus during a live broadcast on a Russian financial channel Wednesday.
Alex Butmanov, CEO and founder of DTI Algorithmic, which trades stocks and ETFs on global financial markets in Russia as well as the U.S., Europe and Asia, was a guest on “Trading in a New Way,” a special program on the RBC Investments YouTube Channel. Anchor Elina Tikhonova expected it to be a typical interview.
It quickly became apparent that wouldn’t be the case.
Эксперт по биржевым стратегиям и экономист в эфире РБК выпил за «смерть» фондового рынка в России.
— TJ (@tjournal) March 3, 2022
When greeted, Butmanov said he would not say “good afternoon” in return, noting he did not see a future in his industry, due to the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European countries. (Russian stock markets have been closed for the past four days.)
She asked if he planned to stay in his profession. He said he was “going to work as a Santa Claus, like 25 years ago”.
Then it got especially strange.
Butmanov reached down below the desk and grabbed a bottle that he claims was soda. He screwed off the top and toasted the demise of Russia’s stock market.
“Jokes aside, let’s get this done quickly,” he said, according to a Google translation. “I send my regards to Sergei Usichenko, who drank 13 years ago to the death of the stock market. Today I drink soda. Dear stock market, you were close to us and interesting. Rest in peace, dear comrade.”
Tikhonova looked on with shock, eventually concluding the interview—or at least the portion that made it online—by saying “I’m not going to comment on this flash mob.”
Curious who Sergei Usichenko was? In 2008, as the market crashed during the world financial crisis, he too took to the airwaves and toasted the death of the markets—only he did so with vodka in a coffee mug.
Usichenko, ironically, is now Deputy CEO at Epicentr K, a national chain of home improvement stores in Ukraine.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com