Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin will stand for re-election in September 2018. He has governed the country’s richest city since 2010 and is a close ally of President Putin. Today’s analysis unravels the gatekeeper to the wealth of the Russian capital, a man who is also rumoured to have higher political ambitions.
The much-anticipated return of Alexei Kudrin to the cabinet of ministers did not materialise. Instead of a role that would allow him to take part in implementing Russia’s long-term economic development plan he helped design, Kudrin was appointed head of a public finance watchdog. Yet, investors hopeful for reforms should not be discouraged as Kudrin’s new role will largely depend on how he interprets it.
The return of Bidzina Ivanishvili to politics as the official leader of the Georgian Dream Coalition provides another example of unfolding uncertainty in the Caucasian country. As with the governments preceding it, the GD are teetering on the verge of de facto collapse – exacerbated by its failure to deliver on its most basic promise: improved economic performance. Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that once promising Georgia will embark on the gamut of reforms needed to truly make it a transparent democracy, and a welcome environment for foreign investors.
The arrest of one of Russia’s wealthiest tycoons, Ziyavudin Magomedov, and his brother Magomed, is one of the biggest scandals to hit Russia’s business community. Not only does this case provide another example of Russian power plays, used to secure political power and control over resource distribution, but it is also likely to affect the dynamics within one of Russia’s most lucrative sectors – infrastructure construction.
Belonging to an elite network can be a double-edged sword, as the experience of Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s outgoing first Vice-Prime Minister, attests. The partnerships that he forged through a Moscow law firm have been the source of both strength and vulnerability.
Putin’s inauguration marked the start of government reshuffles in Russia. The most significant change happened to the Deputy Prime Ministers; five have been replaced. Shadow Governance Intel looks at who is in and who is out of the new government and explains what the new appointments reveal about the power balance within Russia’s elite groups.
Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg are the main victims of the new round of U.S. sanctions imposed last month. The two long-time commercial rivals and known Kremlin’s loyalists have found themselves in the same boat; relying on their ties to elite networks for the survival of their business empires. Shadow Governance Intel analyses what political and societal networks Deripaska and Vekselberg can look to, to stay afloat amid the new round of U.S. sanctions, explaining why their stories are important to monitor.
Russia’s top echelons of elite – political and commercial – secure their position based on their ability to navigate layers of patronage. The ultimate patronage being that which emanates from the President himself. The profiles of those in Putin’s innermost circle, in some cases named through the latest round of Russian sanctions, highlight just how important patronage remains for financial survival, particularly in a sanction-heavy
Last month Naftogaz celebrated a big victory in a lawsuit against Gazprom. However, its domestic battles have been far less victorious. One major stumbling point is the system of gas supplies dominated by oligarch Dmitry Firtash. Despite international pressure, and the obvious economic benefits of unbundling the system of gas supply and distribution, the government has been reluctant to challenge Firtash’s monopoly. Shadow Governance Intel analyses the standoff between Naftogaz and the Firtash-controlled regional gas suppliers, and explains why the government continues to resist change.
Putin’s unsurprising victory in last month’s Presidential election, launching his 4th term in office, designates the onset of a new phase of Russian politics. Having already realized his foremost intention - that of reasserting authority of the autocratic state, Putin is now faced with crafting an escape plan whilst avoiding economic crisis, or a damaging succession battle among the elite.
Under the tenure of President Poroshenko in Ukraine's Post Euro-Maidan environment, there are strong indications that the country's 'old' oligarch class are faltering. Once noted for the commercial and political influence they held, the likes of Akhmetov, Firtash, Pinchuk and Kolomoysky have been faced with a succession of closing doors in Kyiv.
The marriage between Tajikistan President Rahmon's second oldest daughter, Ozoda, and Jamoliddin Nuraliev, has created an emerging 'power couple' that is slowly consolidating significant political and commercial capital. Their initial rise may not appear spectacular, but their swift rise through the ranks of government has given them considerable leverage, with Nuraliev now considered a 'grey cardinal' of the economy.