The 5th in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2014 is by Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory

In economic terms 2013 was Russia’s Annus Horribilis. From growth of 3.4 per cent in 2012, and early expectations of a repeat performance this year, the economy is much more likely to report growth of only 1.3 per cent. That is still a good number in global terms but a long way off the 4 to 5 per cent growth that the country actually needs. A second consecutive year of poor growth will feel like stagnation and lead to a raft of earnings forecast downgrades in companies exposed to the domestic economy.

The good news is that the President and his Kremlin advisors are finally starting to pay attention. Read more

Micex index | Source: Reuters

It’s just under 5,000 miles from Washington DC to Moscow, but two very different press conferences caused Russia’s Micex index to spike on Wednesday. Read more

Former Yukos oil company chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands in the defendant's glass cage in a Moscow courtroom on November 2, 2010. Mikhail Khodorkovsky could walk free in 2014 following a decision by a Moscow court to reduce the tycoon’s jail sentence by two years. But Russia’s most famous prisoner is not going to kowtow to the authorities and thank the judiciary for any favours. As far as he’s concerned the charges against him are trumped up and he should not be in jail at all.

At the end of a lengthy appeals process, a Moscow court upheld the guilty verdict handed down at the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2010, but reduced the sentence by two years citing amendments to Russian law. Read more

On the face of it, there would appear to be little reason why foreign investors should worry much about Russia’s Pussy Riot court case.

So what if three young female punks have been jailed for two years, as they were on Friday, for hooliganism after a noisy performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral? After all, there are many western countries where such a provocative public display would also result in prosecution.

But that is to misunderstand Russia. In fact, the case should give even the most hard-headed international business people pause for thought. Read more