It was in 1974 that Yuri Mamleev, a Moscow dissident author, finally decided he had had enough of being banned from publishing. He and his wife took a decision that was then increasingly common for Soviet intellectuals – they emigrated.
Mamleev was part of the so called “third wave” of USSR emigration – the first wave left in the 1920s fleeing the Bolshevik takeover, the second escaped from World War II, while the third, Mamleev’s generation, was driven out mainly by censorship.
And today there may be the beginning of a fourth wave. Economist Sergei Guriev’s flight to France last month may revive the controversial tradition of political exile. Continue reading »
By Marcus Svedberg of East Capital
One should be careful in drawing parallels between seemingly similar events in different countries. But there are a number of striking similarities between the protests in Turkey and the recent events in Russia.
These are two radically different emerging markets but there are common denominators among the protestors, the regimes, and in the triggers for the unrest. One conclusion is that the protests are not about economics: but economic development does help to explain why these tensions have emerged now. And that raises the old question – does economic development foster democracy? Continue reading »
By Ben Aris of bne
There was high drama at Sberbank‘s AGM on Friday when celebrity economist Sergei Guriev was voted back on the board of the big Russian state-controlled bank despite having fled the country at the weekend in fear of arrest.
Guriev said earlier that he had withdrawn his name from the list of candidates, but the head of Sberbank’s legal department told journalists ahead of the vote that it was too late the remove Guriev’s name from the ballot. The result is an embarrassment for the authorities even if Guriev doesn’t return to Russia any time soon. Continue reading »
As Russia’s economy slows, one name comes up more and more in conversations – that of Alexei Kudrin, the former finance minister who either resigned or was sacked, depending on whom you talk to, in September 2011.
Kudrin has an unrivalled reputation for economic management, earned in more than a decade in office, before he fell foul of a rivalry with Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev, who was president at the time and is now prime minister, accepted Kudrin’s resignation after Kudrin publicly said he wouldn’t work with Medvedev. Continue reading »
By Ben Aris of bne
It was only a few years ago that state-owned Gazprom was worth $350bn, making it the third most valuable company in the world. But as doubts have grown over the future of the Russian gas export monopoly-cum foreign policy tool, its share price has tumbled.
On April 2, its valuation dipped below $100bn for the first time since 2009, which will only heighten calls to break it up and put the firm on a more commercial basis. Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »
Sergei Guriev, rector, NES
It’s not easy running an independent institution in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Nevertheless, one of the country’s first private university-level academies has won a worldwide reputation, with US president Barack Obama among its fans. Continue reading »
One of the candidates has called Russia the US’s “number one geopolitical foe”. The other has pushed for a “reset” and promised “more flexibility” on missile defence if he is granted a second term.
Yet when it comes down to it, a Romney presidency and an Obama presidency may not look radically different – at least where Russia is concerned. 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 »
Russia faces a new drama involving the authorities and a billionaire accused of a criminal offence who claims, in his defence, to be the victim of a political vendetta.
The star of the show this time is Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent turned businessman and Kremlin critic, who owns British newspapers headed by The Independent and the London Evening Standard, as well as Novaya Gazeta, an opposition-minded Russian newspaper that focuses on official corruption.
The alleged offence is far more colourful than the usual tax fraud charges levelled against oligarchs. Lebedev is charged with hooliganism over a television punch-up that was watched by millions (see after the break). This one could run and run. Continue reading »
Since Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev swapped jobs in May, some of the heat has gone out the power struggles between their allies. But the tensions between the warring factions have not gone away.
Though Arkady Dvorkovich has always been placed on the side of (ex-president and current prime minister) Medvedev, in an interview published on Thursday he sought to downplay the rift, while also stressing that he did not want the state to take a bigger role in the Russian economy (a line favoured by some of Putin’s allies). Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »
Deep divisions have emerged once again this week over Igor Sechin’s bid to remain front and centre of the Russian energy industry. They offer more public evidence – as if any were needed – of the growing conflicts between the camps of president Vladimir Putin and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Continue reading »
By Carroll Colley of Eurasia Group
A draft proposal circulating in the Russian parliament would put Russia’s largest Internet companies under the auspices of its Strategic Investment Law – and give the government the right to limit foreign ownership.
While the legislation will almost certainly become law, the immediate impact on investors in Internet companies will be fairly limited. But the Kremlin’s critics fear the authorities are plotting to increase their influence over the Internet in ways that investors in Russia in general would be foolish to ignore. Continue reading »