Where is Nikolai Belikov Now? We discuss where the Russian is now and the status of Tetris ELORG. It will contain spoilers for the Tetris movie.
In the historical Tetris movie released early in 2023, Henk Rogers goes on a dangerous journey to Soviet Russia to try and get the legal rights to produce Tetris on the Nintendo Gameboy and has to dodge rivals from both the USSR and other gaming companies.
Both Rogers and the Tetris game creator Alexey Pajitnov consulted on the film.
One face that’s less clear, though, is Nikolai Belikov. He had a pivotal role in the game’s licensing decisions, and if it weren’t for him, Nintendo would have never got the rights.
We dive into the real-life person and his life.
Who is Nikolai Belikov?
Nikolai Belikov was the vice president of the Soviet ELORG, a state body that managed the licensing of the game Tetris.
He remained in this role until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 when he reformed ELORG into a private company and later sold it to The Tetris Company, which is still strong today.
Is Nikolai Belikov a real person?
Nikolai Belikov is a real person, and he is still alive today. He is why Nintendo managed to secure the rights for Tetris for handheld consoles, helping them find loopholes in the contract that Robert Stein of Andromeda Software had signed with ELORG.
And with the involvement of Henk Rogers, the pair found that the contract didn’t include the definition of a computer, which was important when it came to distinguishing between a computer, arcades, consoles, and handheld consoles.
As such, Belikov drafted a new contract that included a narrow definition of a computer, which Stein didn’t know about when he signed it, and so lost out to the game’s rights on consoles and handheld consoles. This allowed Nintendo to swoop in and pick up the handheld rights and, later, the home console rights.
None of this would have been achieved without Belikov, as he was likely under a lot of pressure from not just international video-game companies but from USSR politicians and the KGB.
Where is Nikolai Belikov today?
Not much is known about what happened to Nikolai Belikov in 2023. He privatized ELORG in 1991, as the Soviet Union fell apart, and became a private company. He moved to America, though exactly when is unclear.
He held financial interests in a company called R-Amtech International, which had several patents, including one relating to a handheld fire extinguishing device.
In 2012, he filed a case against Maryann Huhs and Roy E. “Al” Huhs for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty (this happens when someone has a responsibility to act in the interests of another person and fails to do so) while managing the company on Belikov’s behalf.
Belikov also accused the pair of diverting R-Amtech’s technology rights and licensing revenues to the duo’s company.
He won this case in July 2014 and was awarded roughly $4.1 million. Nikolai Belikov today has stayed out of the public light, keeping his life private.
Does Tetris’ ELORG still exist?
No, the ELORG for Tetris no longer exists. In 1991, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belikov turned ELORG into a private company.
ELORG was a state-owned organization with a monopoly on the import and export of computer support and hardware, and software in the Soviet Union. It was controlled by the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the USSR from 1971 to 1989. This was because the Soviet Union didn’t allow for individual or private ownership, so the rights to Tetris were given to the state-owned body.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belikov turned the company into a private establishment known as ELORG LLC. and continued to run it. This was until 2005 when he sold his shares in it and Tetris to The Tetris Company for around $15 million.