Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gangster state

I particularly liked this commentary in today's London 'Times'

A portion here:

"One of the curious trends of recent years has been the Western business community’s enduring love affair with the unlovely Russia. With every passing week, it becomes clearer that this is a country run by and for people little different from gangsters. The tanks rolling into Georgia have reminded us that they are gangsters with keys to a big arsenal.

The largest Western companies, Shell and BP included, have been bullied, intimidated and forced into concessions by the Kremlin and its cronies. This week a Moscow court joined in the harassment, targeting the head of BP’s troubled joint venture in Russia.

This is a country that defaulted on its overseas debts less than ten years ago; a country that, after its journey from feudalism to kleptocracy via totalitarian communism, has little truck with Western-style capitalism; a country alive with corruption and not averse, it has been suggested, to the occasional state-sponsored murder. Hardly the ideal recipient of Western capital, you might think.

But Western companies have rushed to throw money at Russia, both in direct and indirect investment. The push by City bankers into Moscow and St Petersburg is matched only by the flood of billionaire oligarchs taking money out. There’s perhaps a lesson there. I’d back the oligarchs to make the shrewder investment call..."

Read the whole article here

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