January 12th, 2011

Russia in 2011

Russia started 2011 in the shadow of the Khodorkovsky trial. Judge Danilkin delivered a guilty verdict and the maximum sentence requested by the prosecutors, signalling to investors that Prime Minister Putin’s power vertical remained as strong as ever. Despite recovering from the lows of 2009, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia Alexei Ulyukayev recently told the press that total capital outflors will be in the $25-30 billion range. Russian investors took Putin’s retention of power seriously and looked for safer places to invest.

According to Russia analyst James Beadle:

[Russia’s] economic development is the innocent victim in this domestic power play. Russia’s business leaders may understand this message but international investors don’t. They observe a distrubing dichotomy between words and actions. Putin has demonstrated that his arbitrary word is the law and that Russia’s legal system remains feudal…Russia’s popularity as a target for investment of all forms will be hindered by insecure political structures. Foreign direct investment will be the biggest victim.

Russia also faces pressure to reduce corrpution and President Medvedev has put that at the top of his agenda. Despite Medvedev’s efforts at combating corruption, Russia continues to fail to comply with the Council of Europe’s Group of Statees Against Corruption (GRECO). Out of 26 recommendations made, Russia completed only a third. Accoring to Alexei Volkov, head of the State Duma’s commission on anti-corruption legislation, change in the area of corruption requires “deep” analysis to see if “they will work in Russia taking into account our culture and tradions.” Would that be the culture of corruption Mikhail Khodorkovsky mentioned in 2010?

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