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Shadow Governance Intel will be hosting a free webinar on 14th December looking at the 2018 presidential elections and the prospects for a post-Putin Russia. The session will look at the political and commercial Power Players and elite groups in Russia that stand to gain and/or lose from this emerging uncertainty; culminating in an outlook that will identify which personalities are set to rise in a post-Putin era, and most importantly what this means for organisations operating or looking to operate in Russia.
A draft proposal for a new Investment Code was released earlier this month in Uzbekistan. Devised to bring legislation on investment relations under one umbrella, and introduce market transparency, the draft code shows promise. Even if passed into law before 2018, implementation will be a struggle. Mirziyoyev realistically operates in a system that is still rooted in patron-client relations, nepotism and corruption.
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Tajikistan’s investment environment is inhospitable, regardless of an investors appetite for risk. Business and politics are inseparable in the country, and the political elite successfully manipulate the political and commercial environment to their benefit – seen through cases of embezzlement, corruption, intimidation of rivals, and the diversion of profits offshore. Those who challenge the Presidential family in private enterprise inevitably face repercussions.
A month after the Saudi King’s landmark visit to Moscow, the courtship between Russia and the Saudis is yet to show signs of a slowdown. While a lot of the discussion revolves around the geopolitical dividends for the Kremlin, the new partnership has more pragmatic business implications for key power players. Shadow Governance looks beyond the headlines to uncover the key Russian benefactors of the new friendship between Moscow and Riyadh.
Reforms have brought a degree of transparency to Ukraine’s political system. A legacy of oligarch interference over political institutions, however, is not so easily disrupted; evident in media revelations that President Poroshenko has prioritised the security and growth of his business interests over the promises he made to the electorate. As Ukraine’s future balances between progress and regression, will the balance tilt towards further reform, or will the road towards a new oligarch class and influence be opened?
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Although Moscow is keen to maintain some degree of influence over Kazakhstan, there are strong indications that Astana is repositioning its foreign policy focus. A careful balancing between East and West has been replaced by a marked shift towards anti-Russian defiance – seen in alternative foreign ties, internal social and cultural policies, and reshuffles of the political elite.
With the presidential elections just six months away, the attention of the Kremlin is on targeting the social media audience efficiently to avoid the repetition of 2012 scenario. However, attempts to engage and mobilise Internet users have been sporadic and clumsy while their effect has been marred with the Kremlin’s continuous attempts to increase Internet censorship.
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.
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.