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Integration Putin-style

03.10.2003
 

Former KGB officials help to make the money of Russian oligarchs become legal in the West
This is news that has been long-expected in Russia, the huge lRussian assets of the country are to head West. It is taken for granted that from day to day the world leading rating agencies may confer an investment rating to Russia which means that the next the largest players on the market will be able to invest in Russia, even American pension funds. Within the past two years, world rating agencies have been raising Russia's rating as if according to some definite schedule. They may do the same now when Russia has managed to quietly enter the top ten countries of the world particularly attractive for direct foreign investments. Now it is rated eight

On Friday, Financial Times reported that ExxonMobil, the world largest oil company, was negotiating purchase of a bigger share holding of the Russian merged company that it had been supposed before. This time the British business daily states that the negotiations will concern 40 per cent of YukosSibneft shares. These rumors are being substantiated with the fact that ExxonMobile Chief Executive Officer Lee Raymond arrived in Moscow yesterday. This may sound strange but the RF Chief Prosecutor's Office treats the merger of the two companies with its peculiar humor. Today, the Prosecutor's Office organized a search in an orphanage patronized by Yukos. 

The Prosecutor's Office does not conceal the fact that the search is being held "because of property damage, embezzlement charges and tax evasion" by subdivisions of the Yukos oil company. But a question arises: what can be found during searches in the orphanage? They may find something, but it is hardly likely that experienced Yukos managers have hidden their most important secrets under the children's beds. On the other hand, it is unlikely that worldly-wise investigators are that naпve. What is more, an idea immediately comes to mind that the Prosecutor's Office is not looking for anything particular at the orphanage. Everything that could be found is already at their disposal. What is more important now is in what light this compromising material is to be presented to the public if the Prosecutor's Office already has it.

This is astonishing that the absurd search at the orphanage was conducted at the same time with the presentation of Russia's military doctrine and the dissatisfaction caused by a new project of the UN's Iraqi resolution. Under these conditions, investigators of the Prosecutor's Office would have been that successful if they had conducted a search in the baskets where Yukos managers' domestic pets sleep. The Prosecutor's Office and opponents of Mikhail Khodorkovsky (former KGB officers) are in fact arranging better pre-sale conditions for YukosSibneft. No doubt that the prosecution organized by the Russian special services will in the future guarantee the maximal capitalization growth to the Russian oil company. This is the reason why the key oligarch of the country is making no haste with the negotiations as he thinks the time has not come yet.

The situation about Yukos and the merger with Sibneft quite logically agree with the policy declared by the Russian authorities. What has President Putin done after his return from the USA? He has outlined the top important objective of the presidential administration which is Russia's adequate integration into the world economy. What is integration? It means mutual integration of both economies. This mutual integration has considerably increased and speeded up within the past year. Even though the West has many claims with respect to Russia, it still welcomes the process.

It is taken for granted that from day to day the world leading rating agencies may confer an investment rating to Russia which means that next the largest players on the market will be able to invest in Russia, even American pension fund. Within the past two years the world rating agencies have been raising Russia's rating as if according to some definite schedule. They may do the same now when Russia has managed to quietly enter the top ten countries of the world particularly attractive for direct foreign investments. Now it is rated eight. Did anybody expect to achieve such results a couple of years ago or in 1998?

Last year, western mass media reported that Russian oligarchs were at a loss considering where to invest their petrodollars; it was stated that Russian oligarchs were not allowed to the assets in Europe and the US. Much has changed since that time. Within this period Russian companies have started large-scale integration of the Russian capital into the western markets. Norilsky Nickel has purchased the controlling interest of Steel Water Mining, the US platinum and palladium monopolist. LUKOIL has acquired a Getty Petroleum filling stations network in the eastern part of America. The acquisitions were welcomed by the US authorities. Russians are allowed to purchase enterprises that are on the verge of bankruptcy everywhere in the world. Russian oligarchs are satisfied with this situation as they do have much spare money, and there is no source in Russia to invest it in.

During his visit to the US, Russia President Vladimir Putin took part in the presentation of a new filling station belonging to the LUKOIL network. So, expansion is gaining steam. This in its turn agrees with the integration policy declared by President Vladimir Putin.

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