Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Russia says a fifth of defense budget stolen

Featured at JRL 2011-92-15
Russia says a fifth of defense budget stolen - Guy Faulconbridge - Reuters - May 24, 2011

Reuters reports that Russian chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky, in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, observed that one-fifth of Russian military spending is being stolen, with troops still getting poor-quality equipment and arms:

"Huge money is being stolen - practically every fifth rouble and the troops are still getting poor quality equipment and arms," chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky told Russia's official gazette, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. "Every year more and more money is set aside for defence but the successes are not great," he said, adding that kickbacks and fictitious contracts were being used to defraud the state.  

Since Russia's annual military budget is over $50 billion, that implies theft of more than $10 billion per year.

Critics say that corruption has grown worse under the Putin-Medvedev tandem, according to Reuters:

President Dmitry Medvedev says endemic corruption is holding back Russia's development, but anti-bribery groups say the problem has become worse since Medvedev was steered into the Kremlin by his mentor Vladimir Putin in 2008.

Some defense industry executives have been removed due to unfulfilled orders.  Concerns over corruption are heightened at a time when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to increase defense spending, in an effort to remedy deficiencies in military equipment and other defense-related problems.

For more, and to see the original article, go to: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/24/us-russia-defence-idUSTRE74N1YX20110524

Russia lacks top-rate scientists ­-- Medvedev

Featured in JRL 2011-92
Russia lacks top-rate scientists ­ -- Medvedev - www.russiatoday.com - May 24, 2011

Russia Today reports that, while meeting with scientists, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev voiced concern over Russian higher education not creating enough graduates who are true professionals or scientists, negatively impacting scientific and economic development.

The article added:

The lack of highly-professional personnel, for instance, is one of the stumbling blocks in the development of science and, thus, in modernizing Russia's economy. As was pointed out at the meeting, despite a large number of university graduates, it is still difficult to find 20 young professionals who would be skilled enough to work in laboratories in Skolkovo ­ the Russian tech hub located outside Moscow.

Among his concerns were the "mixing of genres" and whether Federal Law No. 94 has impeded progress.
Medvedev also raised the prospect of reshuffling some goverment positions by firing appointees.

For more, go to: http://rt.com/politics/medvedev-science-skolkovo-personnel/

No Place Left for Medvedev

Featured at JRL 2011-92-3
No Place Left for Medvedev - By Nikolai Petrov - Moscow Times -  May 24, 2011 
Nikolai Petrov is a scholar in residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Nikolai Petrov addresses some major recent sign-posts in Russia politics in anticipation of Duma and presidential elections, such as Medvedev and Putin maneuvering with major statements; billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov leading the Right Cause party; and the Congress of Russian Communities registering as a nationalist public association without party affiliation.

Meanwhile, Sergei Mironov, A Just Russia's former leader, has been removed as Speaker of the Federation Council.

Petro argues that all the sudden activity was induced by public apathy over next year's presidential election, while Putin nevertheless wants ways to sustain his own power :

"... the fact is that Putin has given no signs of planning to leave power. In any system built on the personal authority of a single individual, the leader only makes an unexpected departure as a result of a revolution or coup d'etat."

Petro argues that, while the wealthy would like to divvy up wealth generated by oil prices, reforms will still proceed. But, he argues, the tandem has out-lived its usefulness, after using it to enhance Russia's image at least somewhat; Putin might prefer to dump Medvedev in favor of another, such as Chubais or Kudrin, among a list of four names.

Petro envisions Putin returning to the presidency, and getting rid of Medvedev entirely after allowing some reforms to occur with the blame going to Medvedev ...

To read more, click here: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/no-place-left-for-medvedev/437332.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Business Moves Beyond Moscow

featured at JRL 2011-88-33
Business Moves Beyond Moscow
Darrell Stanaford - Moscow Times - May 18, 2011

Darrell Stanaford is managing director for CB Richard Ellis in Russia.

In a Moscow Times commentary, business leader Darrell Stanaford argues, "... companies should not wait for Russia to modernize before they take the plunge into the regions. It's their plunge that will accelerate the modernization of Russia."

Stanaford examines Moscow's historic role as holding lion's share of investment and development in Russia, with 90% ending up in Moscow in 2010.  But with limits on Moscow infrastructure, high costs and changing priorities, business now is exploring more beyond Moscow.

Stanford predicts a decade of reduction in labor migration from the regions, and more modern economic expansion more evenly across regions by 2020, ironically enhancing quality of life in Moscow.

This process, he argues, is natural and has been seen elsewhere. In Russia, IT is helping to pave the way.

The key is quality workers, especially from key institutes.  Client location also is key. And some business functions need not be at a main location.

Read more at http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/business-moves-beyond-moscow/437000.html

NEWSLINK: Lessons from Medvedev for BP, Rosneft, Sechin....and Putin

Featured in JRL 2011-88 (32)
Lessons from Medvedev for BP, Rosneft, Sechin....and Putin
Stefan Wagstyl - Financial Times - May 18, 2011

"Although [Medvedev] did not say so, his criticisms were aimed at both BP and Rosneft ­ and deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, the former Rosneft chairman, who was forced to leave the company earlier this year on Medvedev's orders.  And the confident-looking president even allowed himself a little swipe at Russia's most powerful man, prime minister Vladimir Putin ...."

Read more at http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/05/18/lessons-from-medvedev-for-bp-rosneft-sechin-and-putin/

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NEWSLINK: Analysis: Russian movement could boost Putin, weaken Medvedev

From JRL 2011-8-3
Analysis: Russian movement could boost Putin, weaken Medvedev
By Gleb Bryanski
May 15, 2011

[Summary First Draft: May17, 2011]

Reuters predicts that Putin's idea of a People's Front in the lead-up to upcoming elections likely will strengthen's Putins power base at Medvedev's expense. While Putin said Medvedev supported the plan, Medvedev refrained from doing so with vigor and said he would not join it.

The possible impact of the presidential election result on future economic prospects and investment is also examined, with Medvedev representing modernization but Putin remaining a powerful figure regardless of which position he holds nominally. Some commentators also have cautioned that seeming rifts between the two might simply be carefully orchestrated.

Reuters also points out that two elections await Russia, both parliamentary and presidential. United Russia, controlling the legislature, has been declining in popularity. A Just Russia also might be minimized: "The creation of the People's Front also appears to end an experiment with a dual-party system involving the Just Russia party created before the 2007 parliamentary election."

To read in greater detail: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/15/us-russia-politics-front-idUSTRE74E19520110515