Although the life expectancy of Kazakh opposition parties is usually brief, rising social discontent is changing the equation. Disaffection with political governance is no longer limited to the grassroots, but increasingly resounding within the middle and business classes, and within elements of the ruling elite itself. This is feeding a resurgent opposition; but will change be orderly or chaotic.
Increased affiliation to the Russian Orthodox Church has proved to be a trend among Russia’s elite groups during Putin’s third presidential term. Both the church and elite groups benefit from their mutual allegiance. While power players finance Church operations, the Church provides ideological backing to the Kremlin and a positive public image for business elite.
During the economic recession, the Kremlin suggested that private players would need to secure their own financing to advance its energy ambitions in the Arctic. This might result in renewed corporate disputes, as state-owned monopolists of the Arctic shelf are determined to retain control over the hydrocarbon reserves of the Russian High North.
There is a shake-up of power players in Kazakhstan’s nuclear sector. In the midst of waning Russian influence, and growing Chinese interests, the political elite group known as the Southerners have been given another opportunity to expand their footprint in the country’s political and commercial echelons of influence. Nuclear sector dynamics are thus simultaneously highlighting Astana’s geopolitical and political realignments.
VTB’s involvement in the Mozambique debt scandal attracted attention to the bank’s operations in Africa and other foreign countries. The bank is closely connected to Russia’s most powerful elite groups who frequently use it to solve politically-sensitive problems. VTB’s foreign activity should be closely monitored vis-à-vis the Kremlin’s attempts to use it to informally promote its foreign policy goals.
Institutional and systemic lapses continue to undermine Georgia’s investment environment. Using the fertilizer sector as a case study, this analysis highlights how sustained interference of politically connected informal business networks in key enterprises has prevented modernisation, and further contributed to deepening a negative image of the country’s wider business and investment climate.
Uzbekistan’s banking sector is currently undergoing major reforms that have been initiated under the new government of President Mirziyoyev. On the surface, these reforms appear tied to attempts to attract foreign investment; however, the question remains whether these reforms will truly bring about transparency.
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Behind the scenes, Kazakhstan’s political and business clans have always bickered; but the era of high economic growth that largely insulated the regime from elite discontent is now over, and the rivalry between various factions has begun to surface in public. As Nazarbayev seeks to balance the two main elite groups, a third has risen and is raising questions.
Although a lesser discussed set of bilateral relations, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates are sending signals of enhanced cooperation. Given the UAE’s desire to expand and diversify its economy, established investors should keep one eye on the effects that emerging bilateral agreements may have on their interests.
Lviv has been is at the forefront of Ukraine’s regeneration since the beginning of the Donbas war in 2014, with hopes that the city will add manufacturing to its two key growth sectors (tourism and IT). Despite opportunities, there is still much to be done to midwife the country’s investment environment to health.
The legal battle between Rosneft-Sistema over Bashneft is one of the largest lawsuits involving Russian energy companies since the Yukos case, which also involved illegal privatisation and the arrest of senior officials. Rightly so, investors are worried that this case will have significant repercussions for the investment environment.
Russia’s banking sector is undergoing the largest reshuffle in decades. The result is that over 50% of banking assets are controlled by a handful of large state- and private-owned entities, through which informal networks leverage their influence. Details of the power dynamics and influence power players wield over Russia’s banks are provided in the Report Store.