Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Putin’s Supporters Go into Hiding

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Yevgeny Chichvarkin, one of the leaders of the Kremlin’s puppet party Right Cause and a businessman, reportedly “emigrated to an undisclosed country”, i.e. escaped from Russia. The reason for that was criminal prosecution of him as a former shareholder of EuroSet mobile phone retailer chain. Previous administrative measures have already “convinced” him to sell his shares (a widespread way of taking over someone else’s business in Russia) but his foes didn’t leave him alone.

The irony here is that Right Cause openly admits cooperation with Kremlin and claims to be a mediator between the enterpreneurs and the government. Their leaders repeatedly said that the authorities are willing to help Russian business but it’s mainly the non-conformist opposition that ruins it all. Now that they even failed to defend themselves against the siloviki, Chichvarkin will have to continue supporting the government from exile.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

January 23, 2009 at 00:23

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. An ‘absurd and bizarre’ verdict from a Siberian court has prompted Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor to consider selling off its stake in Russian mobile phone company VimpelCom. The verdict is the “last straw” in a long-running conflict between Telenor and its Russian partner.

    Norwegian business development group Innovation Norway “Innovasjon Norge”, advises companies to prepare themselves well before entering the Russian market. Corruption is a major problem, the group notes, it’s challenging to relate to various and changing laws and regulations regarding customs, licenses and certificates and the level of risk is high.

    Michael Gorbach

    January 29, 2009 at 03:11

  2. Andrei Illarionov, Putin’s former economic adviser, argues that the contraction in Russian industry started well before the oil prices peaked and has by now progressed to a stage “beyond catastrophe” (www.gazeta.ru, January 30). Putin predicted that the Russian economy would see recovery before the end of the year, but his economic lieutenants hypothesize about three years of recession, which essentially means that their anti-crisis plan is based entirely on spending the accumulated reserves, which at the current rate would be exhausted by mid-2009.

    Putin probably cannot quite understand why the massive expenditure of stored capital does not stop the economic freefall, but he has certainly rediscovered Russia’s vulnerability to global turbulence. Hence, his renewed emphasis on cooperation that might indeed encourage some investors with short memories. For most Europeans, however, the trust destroyed by the “gas war” with Ukraine and the five-day war with Georgia cannot be restored by one “liberal” speech. Putin’s idea about reducing military expenditures rings particularly hollow for anyone who cares to remember his multiple commitments to modernizing Russia’s armed forces. On the day of Putin’s speech, the Russian General Staff indicated that deployment of the tactical Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Oblast had been postponed, but this goodwill gesture has hardly provided much ammunition for the “peaceful offensive,” since these missiles are yet to be produced (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 29). The Kremlin may rejoice about scoring twice with a non-existent Iskander–first by announcing it and then by canceling its deployment–but Germany and other European countries are hardly amused by this irresponsible brinksmanship.

    The compromised reputation of Russia’s leadership and its proven propensity to erratic behavior effectively exclude this important economy from the multilateral efforts to mitigate the crisis. The Russian nouveau riche are still flocking to the Courchevel ski resort, but the Russian contribution to the brainstorming in Davos was thin indeed (Novaya gazeta, January 30). Putin dismissed the question about whether Russia might need help in restarting post-crisis modernization, insisting that “we are not invalids” and suggesting that the West should take a closer look at its own image before poking at Russia’s problems. It is indeed necessary to forget petty disagreements, like the “beef crisis” with Poland, and discard the old hurdles, like the Jackson-Vanik amendment in the U.S. trade legislation. The key issue, however, is that it is precisely Putin’s own leadership that constitutes the greatest handicap for Russia in coping with the crisis, and Western criticism of its lack of transparency and intolerance to opposition is ultimately aimed at helping this key partner overcome the increasing dysfunction of the regime. The organizers of the Davos Forum have a “no-losers” rule for selecting speakers; it might take only a few months to demonstrate that Putin was an unfortunate exception.


    February 7, 2009 at 22:40

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