He was born in Melenki of the Vladimir region. In 1972, he graduated from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute. He started working as a junior researcher at the State Institute of Applied Chemistry.
After completing military service in the Soviet Army, he worked as an engineer, senior engineer in the State Committee of the Council of Ministers for Foreign Economic Relations of the USSR, head of a department of A.F. Ioffe Physics and Technical Institute.
In 1985-1991, second and then first secretary of the Permanent Mission of the USSR at the UN.
Then - chairman of the board at the International Center of Business Cooperation, chief of the North-Western Federal District Inspectorate of the Main Control Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation.
From 2000 - Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation.
From 2002 - Deputy Minister of Railways.
From 2003 - First Vice-President of Russian Railways JSC.
In 2005, he was appointed president of Russian Railways JSC.
He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center of National Glory and the St. Andrew Foundation.
Extraordinary career rise of Vladimir Yakunin is caused by the same things as success of other officials from Vladimir Putin’s close circle. That is service in the KGB of the USSR and business interests in the northern capital in the first half of the nineties, when the colonel of the KGB Putin was deputy of Mayor Anatoly Sobchak and head of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg Mayor's office.
It is known very little about Yakunin at the time of his service in the KGB. He served in one of the most secretive administrations of PSU (PGU - First Chief Directorate of the KGB, intelligence) - in scientific and technical intelligence (Directorate T of PGU), which was looking all over the world for data of critical importance not only for the Soviet military-industrial complex (MIC) but for collapsing Soviet economy as a whole. According to Western intelligence analysts, in the second half of the 80s, the Directorate T transferred to the Centre from 25 to 40 000 messages per year with a market value estimated in huge amounts - from 550 million (in 1986) to 1 billion rubles (1988 -1989). They concerned various things - from up-to-date radar systems to technology of companies such as IBM and Siemens, from chemical formulas of rocket fuel to fertilizers for agriculture.
Source: The New Times, September 3, 2007
On December 21, 2010, Estonian Security Police (est. KAPO) published on its website previously secret document No.98T, which indicated that the President of the Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin had promised to chairman of the Centre Party, and the Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar and Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Denis Borodich support for the party for the parliamentary elections of March 6, 2011 in the amount of 1.5 million euros for the transfer of money; among others, Vice-Mayor of the capital Dennis Borodich had to be responsible for legalization of the money.
The document, in particular, said that on June 23-24, 2010, Yakunin visited Estonia, where the head of administration of RZD Vladimir Bushuev had already arrived the day before. On June 24, during a picnic on the boat in the Tallinn Bay, Yakunin told to Borodich that “it is possible 1.5 instead of the requested three”. In further cultural program, they visited Kiltsi manor in Lääne-Viru County.
On the grange Savisaar, Borodich, Bushuev, Sergey Petrov (the owner of a transit company Petromaks Spediitor AS operating in Estonia), and Yakunin, at the suggestion of the latter, retired for secret talks. During the conversation, Yakunin said that the Centre Party would receive 1.5 million euros for parliamentary elections: one third - in cash, two thirds - by money from the accounts. Yakunin also reminded that it was nessesary to keep the deal in secret, having referred to his long experience in operational work. Sergey Petrov from one party and Borodich from the other party were appointed to be responsible for the transfer of the money and legalization.
Source: Postimees (Estonia), December 12, 2010
On February 19, 2011, at a reception in the Mayor Town Hall after erection of the cross over Lasnamäe temple, Vladimir Yakunin personally called his friend, the conductor of Mariinsky Theatre Valery Gergiev and received confirmation that it was possible that the symphony orchestra would come to Tallinn on February 28. The unscheduled private concert for a closed circle of persons was held on 28 February in Nokia concert hall. Before the concert, the mayor of Tallinn Savisaar spoke to the public. The Tallinn City Hall paid only hall rent of 5000 euros. All other costs were covered by the Russian side. Many Estonian media interpreted this event as a confirmation of supporting the Centre Party by the Russian authorities.
Source: DELFI (Estonia), Murch 1, 2011
The youngest son of the President of Russian Railways Victor Yakunin has been working in the Russian office of Gunvor trading company since the mid of 2000s. He occupies the post of the Director of Legal Affairs, in charge of legal support of Gunvor’s projects in Russia.
At the same time Victor works as head of the department of investments in infrastructure of the British investment company Venture Investments & Yield Management (VIYM), engaged in development projects in St. Petersburg. The company is headed by Andrey Yakunin, the older brother of Victor.
In 1998, Victor began working as an assistant in the St. Petersburg office of Arthur Andersen and then moved to the position of senior lawyer of Ernst & Young. From 2004 to 2007, he lived in Geneva and engaged in trade of oil and oil products, said on the website of VIYM. Then he returned to the country.
Victor started working as a lawyer being still a student, a former employee of Arthur Andersen recalls. When the company took him to work, no one suspected about what a brilliant career was waiting for his father. Among the other senior students of the faculty of law, Victor was distinguished by a brilliant knowledge of English and the law; he quickly went up, as another lawyer, who worked with the younger Yakunin, says.
Source: Vedomosti, December 23, 2009
In 2009, the eldest son of the head of Russian Railways Andrey Yakunin signed a deal with Rezidor, being listed in Stockholm and having long experience in managing hotels. Andrew Yakunin]s firm - Regional Hotel Network (RHN) – got and began to build hotels, which were to be under control of Rezidor. Together they planned a network of 20 hotels under the brand Park Inn by Radisson.
The first three Park Inn by Radisson hotels are in Kazan, Astrakhan and Izhevsk. But they have nothing to do with the Russian Railways, Andrey Yakunin tells to Reuters. However, it has planned to open at least five next hotels in front of or very close to the most important railway stations.
In 2012, Andrey Yakunin decided to invest $ 500 million in the development of the network of hotels in Russia at the railway station territories. And “presence of business relations between the son of the President of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin and businessmen associated with the Russian Railways” has been revealed. For example, the “daughter” of Railways - Zheldoripoteka - helps with the selection of sites for new hotels.
Source: Forbes, July 27, 2012