Having ruled Kazakhstan for more than 25 years, President Nazarbayev has kept a close network of loyalists and allies within strategic government agencies. However, constant reshuffling has prevented any one person or group from gaining too much influence – thereby limiting opposition opportunities.
Since Putin’s rise to power, his inner circle has largely remained unchanged. Many of the President’s key allies hail from the siloviki, ozero cooperative, as well as his former allies from St Petersburg and personal associates.
On 7 June, Russia's State Duma passed a new bill that requires companies to disclose information on their beneficiaries at the request of the authorities. Passage of the bill was reported as part of the government’s efforts to improve economic transparency and decrease the use of offshore holdings.
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Kazakhstan’s snap elections held on 20th March rendered unsurprising results. With presidential succession in mind, foreign investors would benefit from understanding how recent parliamentary elections can impact network alliances and the state resources they (eventually) receive.
Since Petro Poroshenko’s presidential victory in May 2014, he and former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk maintained a relative balance of power. But as the President begins his second year in office, that balance has shifted in Poroshenko’s favour.
He may have consolidated political control with the appointment of his protégée, Volodymyr Groysman, as Prime Minister, but there are no guarantees that the Cabinet reshuffle that replaced Western-favored technocrats with his political allies will make it to the end of the year.
Over the past few years, the government of Kazakhstan has made strides in creating a more attractive business environment for foreign investors. Despite improvements, there still exist a number of obstacles that lead to persistent reputational risks, which continue to hamper FDI.
Historically, the use of bribery, rent-seeking, and opaque intermediaries was so entrenched in Ukraine's gas sector that they are essentially the lubricants that run the industry. Has anything changed?
Ukraine has had a weak businesses climate since independence. The main problems include corruption, bureaucracy, and the complex and selective nature of the judicial system. The real obstacles to reform are multi-faceted and require a reform-minded government willing to take political risks and stand up to vested elite interests.
Foreign entities who currently or have previously invested in Russia in the past are aware of the various challenges they face, such as corruption, arbitrary enforcement of laws, and state bureaucratic procedures. While many of these issues remain a concern – and show few signs of abating – operating under the new era of sanctions have led to new challenges.
Between 2008 and 2012, Aslan Musin held an influential position as one of President Nazarbayev’s most trusted advisors. However, shortly following the Zhanaozen riots in December 2011, Musin’s career – and his support network – disintegrated and he was cast into political abyss.
Bribery is a primary tool for local-level corruption. Regional elites auction off every credit, investment, or new business opportunity to local contractors willing to pay bribes. Regional elites also collect bribes from the population for delivering essential services, such as water, education, justice, documents, etc. To cover up the money lost in the process, regional elites often blame farmers for failing to harvest enough cotton, extract enough gas, or efficiently use funds.