Russian President Vladimir Putin may have physically left Ukraine on Sunday, after wrapping up a two-day visit during which he pressured Kiev to choose Moscow over the EU as a closer economic partner. But upon waking up the next day Ukrainian leaders were vividly reminded of what may follow if they ignore Putin’s words – most likely a trade war.
In an early Monday report, news agency Interfax revealed that Russian regulators decided to ban imports of chocolates and other sweets produced by Ukrainian confectionary giant Roshen. Continue reading »
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has been clamping down on dissent more decisively than before. FT comment and analysis editor Frederick Studemann, James Nixey of Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Programme and the FT’s Eastern Europe editor Neil Buckley discuss the future of Putinism.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire Russian businessman and politician, reckons the Kremlin should help rescue Cyprus from financial collapse. But Vladimir Putin does not appear to be listening. Here’s why. Continue reading »
The Cyprus crisis has angered the island’s bank depositors, rattled markets and prompted furious arguments about the sacrifices involved in the planned EU/IMF-led rescue.
Trouble all around, not least among the banks’ many Russian clients. But there is a silver lining: Russia’s president Vladimir Putin now has a golden opportunity to impress the world with his generosity and far-sightedness. He should volunteer to cover Russian depositors’ losses – but only on condition they identify themselves and their sources of funds. Moscow would get kudos for contributing to a high-profile international rescue, supporting its citizens, and promoting financial transparency. What could be better than that? Continue reading »
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday nominated Elvira Nabiullina, his chief economic adviser (pictured), as head of Russia’s central bank, in a move which raises concerns about the institution’s independence.
While Nabiullina is seen an ultra-bright economist/technocrat, she has little personal political clout and won’t be well-placed to resist Kremlin pressures. Investors might have preferred Alexei Ulyukayev, the bank’s hawkish first deputy governor, who has a strong record for sticking to his guns. But they didn’t get a say. Continue reading »
The seventh in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2013 is by Sergey Aleksashenko of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics
President Vladimir Putin has for more than a decade run the Russian economy through a combination of resurgent state power and crony capitalism.
Driven by higher oil prices, GDP has recovered rapidly since he first took power in 2000, but economic growth has come at a high price. As the state has become stronger in the economy, the institutional framework has become weaker: trust in the courts has plunged, bureaucratic corruption has mushroomed and officials have taken to milking money even from small companies.
Buoyed by his return to the Kremlin in 2012, Putin has now pledged to improve the business climate. But can a leopard change his spots? Continue reading »
Is Vladimir Putin finally getting serious about corruption? The president on Tuesday dismissed defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov following an investigation into an alleged $95m fraud at his ministry.
The televised announcement was clearly designed to send a strong message about Putin’s intentions. Even if he limits his attentions to the defence ministry – as opposed to launching a wider clean-up campaign – it would be a huge undertaking. The military-industrial complex is among the least transparent and most inefficient sectors of the Russian economy. But Putin’s real intentions aren’t clear. Continue reading »
Rosneft‘s proposed $50bn-plus takeover of TNK-BP, buying out BP and its Russian oligarch partners, will turn the state-run group into one of the world’s largest oil producers controlling nearly half Russia’s output.
For those who believe that bigger is better, including Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin and his political master president Vladimir Putin, this is a triumph. For BP and its partners, the end of a troubled, if profitable, relationship will come as a relief.
But for Russia as a whole – and for the global oil industry – Rosneft’s coup is, at best, a mixed blessing. Continue reading »
You might think that Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, had enough on his plate running the world’s biggest gas company without taking extra jobs on the side. But Russia’s top gasman has jumped into the saddle at Rosippodromy, the new state equestrian agency, tasked with reviving horse breeding and racing in Russia. Continue reading »
Unlike many European leaders, Vladimir Putin has remained on amicable terms with Silvio Berlusconi even after the former Italian prime minister’s ignominious exit from power late last year.
But Putin is not going to let personal loyalties interfere with the strategic partnership Russia and Italy built during the time that his friend dominated Italian politics. A flurry of deals signed on Monday as Mario Monti, Italy’s new premier paid his first working visit to Russia since taking office are testimony to that. Continue reading »
Russia’s protest movement has reached the boardroom: Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is in regular trouble with the police, was on Monday elected a director of Aeroflot.
It is not a total surprise that his appointment was backed by billionaire businessman Alexander Lebedev, who owns roughly 15 per cent of the national airline, given Lebedev’s sympathy for the protests. But it seems curious that the state, which controls 51 per cent, did not oppose the appointment. What is going on? Continue reading »
When Vladimir Putin returned to speak at the St Petersburg international investment forum on Thursday, he faced a tough task convincing investors the government will make progress on pledges to improve the investment climate. The problem was many of those gathered there had heard similar promises before. Continue reading »
Russian equities have risen 190 per cent in three years, but they are still at a steep discount to other emerging markets. Stefan Wagstyl, emerging markets editor, talks to John Authers about the markets’ on-off love affair with president-elect Vladimir Putin.
By Matthew Hulbert of Clingendael International Energy Programme
Quelle surprise: President Putin is back. But he has a problem – he isn’t very popular.
While eastern commentators are getting very excited about prospective reform packages, Putin is far more likely to revert to a far older method to sustain (and enhance) his tenure in the Kremlin: hydrocarbons. Like it or not, the relative success or failure of ‘Putin 2.0’ doesn’t depend on how far United Russia embraces political and economic reform, but where Russia stands as a global energy heavyweight in 2018. Continue reading »