Tag Archives: russia

Removing Barriers to Investment in Ukraine

panelists from Identifying and Removing Barriers to Investment in Ukraine

By Eric Hontz and Kathryn Walson

Three years after Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, a centralized, oligarchic power structure has once again taken hold. This has made it challenging to keep the business environment in Ukraine friendly to western investment, as the new power structure allows for increased influence from oligarchs and leads to increased corruption. Further, ongoing hostility with Russia and corruption act as a serious deterrent for western investors, which bring with them demands for higher standards in compliance, governance, and accountability from government institutions.

Because public funding alone cannot solve the country’s infrastructure problems, foreign investment into Ukrainian infrastructure is essential to the country’s ability to increase exports and gross domestic product. Despite this paradox in expectations and reality, an increase in investment in Ukraine has already begun, as Ukraine has consciously turned its efforts towards recruiting western businesses. CIPE and the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council co-hosted a panel discussion in June to discuss the investment climate in Ukraine, featuring Volodymr Omelyan, Minister of Infrastructure in Ukraine; former Ambassador John E. Herbst, current Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council; and Matt London, Deputy Managing Director at Amsted Rail Russia-CIS at Amsted Rail Inc.

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast #63: Christian Caryl on the Challenges Facing Democracy Around the World

Left: Podcast guest Christian Caryl and guest host Frank Brown

On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, editor of the Washington Post’s DemocracyPost blog, Christian Caryl, discusses the challenges facing democracy around the world and whether we are at a major inflection point in history. He talks about the current crisis facing western democracy and why its implications are vitally important for Americans.

Caryl, a self-described “troll magnet,” also talks about the difficulty of countering fake news and the Russian information war. He explains the rules that guide the work of journalists in the United States, and how increasing media literacy is important for rebuilding the public’s trust in the media.

Read DemocracyPost here and follow Caryl on Twitter @ccaryl.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #50: Marc Schleifer on Democratic Trends in Europe, Eurasia, and South Asia

Podcast guest Marc Schleifer

CIPE Regional Director for Europe, Eurasia, and South Asia Marc Schleifer works on democracy projects in vastly different parts of the globe. On today’s episode of the Democracy that Delivers podcast he discusses the trends that are affecting the health and development of democracy in his areas of focus, including the attitudes and outlooks of the citizens in each region.

Schleifer describes his early interest in social issues and how his fascination with Russia led to eight years living in the country working in law and international development (and his brief stint as a rock musician). His recollections from this time, including the exciting and chaotic mood in pre-Putin Russia, contrast sharply with his assessment of Russia both today and in the near future. He also talks about the rise in populist sentiment in many parts of the world and challenges us to avoid knee-jerk reactions and look at the political and economic developments behind it.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #24: Karina Orlova on the Risks Reporters Face in Russia and Why She Had to Leave

Podcast guest Karina Orlova (right) with hosts Ken Jaques (center) and Julie Johnson.

Podcast guest Karina Orlova (right) with hosts Ken Jaques (center) and Julie Johnson.

The American Interest journalist Karina Orlova discusses the risks reporters face in Russia and why she had to leave. Orlova talks about her experience reporting on Russian politics and business, and the powerful forces that exert control over journalists and media outlets in that country.

She also shares fascinating insights into current living conditions in Russia and citizen attitudes towards corruption and governance. Follow Karina’s work at The American Interest or on her Facebook page.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Listen to past episodes of our show here.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes to help other listeners find the show.

Russia’s Rent-Seeking Downward Spiral

It is clear that if we do not start taking action today, including by carrying out structural reforms, we could end up going into a lengthy period of economic stagnation tomorrow. Our economy is still based primarily on natural resources rather than on manufacturing. Our economic system has changed little in essence. Where does most of our money come from? From oil, gas, metals and other raw materials.

– Vladimir Putin, Annual Address to the Federal Assembly, April 3, 2001

Fifteen years later, the Russian economy envisioned by that progressive speech by Putin in April 2001 seems to be a distant memory. Russia’s economy, and budget, are still largely dependent upon the sale of oil and the majority of Russian industry is still based on extractive industries. The modern vision of Russia in that speech, one deeply embedded into the international system, where property rights are protected by the undiscriminating rule of law, has been replaced by a cynical “managed” system of crony capitalism where profits are skimmed off by insiders while Russia has isolated itself by its actions on the international stage.

Since 2001, record-setting commodity prices have supported increased social benefits, military spending, and infrastructure investments, each of which has supported corruption schemes where insiders profit off of the state’s largess (see the cost of the Sochi Olympics as Exhibit A). High commodity prices also allowed the Russian government to slowly smother individual rights and free speech at home and, largely through key investments in media, buy the country a larger voice in affairs abroad.

Rather than pulling away from a resource-based economy, Russia’s entire economy appears to now be moving in near perfect correlation with energy prices (see chart below).

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Russia’s Plan for Economic Recovery: Demolish Small Businesses

With shocking disregard for property rights, due process and the rule of law, overnight on February 9 the Moscow city government set out around city to raze hundreds of small businesses. The demolition took place in spite of the fact that many of these businesses had the proper paperwork to operate a business in that location, and in some cases court orders staying any proposed demolition. While the Moscow city government can rely on revenue from other sources, these kiosks and mini-malls supported hundreds of small shops that provided employment for over 2,000 Moscow residents according to the city’s own estimates.

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Gagauzia: Another Obstacle on Moldova’s Path to Europe?

Welcome_to_Gagauzia

In 2014, shortly before the Republic of Moldova signed its EU Association Agreement, nearly 99 percent of the electorate in the little-known, autonomous region of Gagauzia in southern Moldova voted in a referendum to reject closer links with Europe in favor of joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. Moldova’s central government first tried to block, and then declared unconstitutional, that referendum. Gagauzia’s separatist inclinations, weak economy, and deep ties with Moscow could pose as much of a threat to Chisinau’s hope of drawing closer to the European Union as the unresolved conflict in Transnistria.

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