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.
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.
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.
An obscure provision tucked inside the CAATSA sanctions law, signed in August 2017, is sending many Russian oligarchs into a tail spin as they wait – with bated breath – to see if their names will appear on an official US Treasury blacklist due to be published next week. Although largely a subjective exercise, certain metrics have been stipulated to identify oligarchs favored by Putin. Whatever the result, the impact is already becoming evident.
Tajikistan’s kleptocratic system is characterised by government critics as one in which the ruling elite would rather have 100% of a $1 million pie, rather than 10% of a $100 million pie. This sentiment highlights the risks associated with doing business in a country where business and politics truly are inseparable.
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.
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.
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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.
Over the past few years, children of Russia’s elite groups have – with increasing frequency - been appointed to high-profile positions in state-owned corporations and ministries, or have taken over their parents’ business. Shadow Governance examines how blood relations, combined with strong societal networks, are used to exert influence and engage in resource distribution.
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Kazakhstan’s banking sector is undergoing a degree of restructuring. The indications are that the sector will undergo several mergers and acquisitions – which will involve banks with ties to the Presidential circle. With suggestions that the country is preparing for political transition, changes in the banking sector can be viewed as an integral part of elite negotiations for a post-Nazarbayev era.
The role the Aliyev family plays in Azerbaijan goes beyond the political. As per the many exposes on the commercial exploits of the Presidential family, Azerbaijan exemplifies the negative economic impact a strong political-commercial nexus can have on a country’s FDI prospects.
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