Going Global, Part 16: Wither Russia?

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Tensions between Russia's government and the strange mix of entrepreneurs and oligarchs that makes up the country's nascent private sector seemed to rise today, according to an Associated Press report. "Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian tycoon who has emerged as one of the Kremlin's most vocal opponents, called Friday for the use of force to oust President Vladimir Putin," the AP reports, "and claimed he has support from some in the country's political elite."

The Kremlin responded by initiating criminal proceedings against Berezovsky for plotting a coup, and by asking the British government to extradite him to Moscow to stand trial.

"[Russian president Vladimir] Putin has created an authoritarian regime against the Russian constitution,' Berezovsky is quoted by the AP as saying. 'I don't know how it will happen, but authoritarian regimes only collapse by force."

The disconnect between the strongman Putin and the free-market capitalists who are building the New Russia (or, some would say, exploiting it) has been growing for some time. As Max Chafkin writes in the April issue of Inc., "Moscow has a love-hate relationship with free enterprise. Though some entrepreneurs have made a killing here since the collapse of communism, the country has restricted foreign investment in recent years."

Yet despite the dangerous political environment, Russia's economy has been growing at a nice clip: 6.4 percent according to the World Bank.

Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about Russia's future? Do you think the country needs a ruthless leader like Putin to hold the whole thing together in the name of progress? Or do you hope that the private sector, however corrupt, plays a larger role in setting the policies that will chart Russia's future political and economic affairs? Finally, do you do business in Russia? If so, what have been your experiences there?

Last updated: Apr 13, 2007




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