New York  : London  : Brussels  : Moscow  : Beijing  : Sydney 
 
 
Client Sign In
Putin Plans Meeting With Oligarchs

President Vladimir Putin will meet with the country's top business leaders next week to discuss how to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, in a meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

Putin is due to talk with a group of about 20 leading members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP, a day before it celebrates its 15th anniversary Wednesday.

"The talk will focus on churning out products with high added value," an official familiar with the RSPP plans said Friday. The official, who requested anonymity because he said the event had yet to be confirmed, said the businessmen hoped to secure Putin's support as they pursue that task.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in the Kremlin on Tuesday, said Oksana Alekseyeva, a spokeswoman for the RSPP.

"There is a preliminary agreement about the meeting," she said.

A Kremlin official said Friday that "it looks like [the meeting] will happen," without elaborating.

About 20 business leaders, including TNK-BP's Viktor Vekselberg, Interros Group's Vladimir Potanin, Alfa Group's Mikhail Fridman, LUKoil's Vagit Alekperov and Russian Aluminum's Oleg Deripaska, would meet with Putin, Vedomosti reported Friday.

CEOs invited include Gazprom's Alexei Miller, Rosneft's Sergei Bogdanchikov, and Sistema's Yevgeny Yevtushenkov.

The Kremlin has yet to approve the final guest list, the newspaper said, citing a source.

A spokeswoman for Basic Element, Deripaska's holding company, said Deripaska planned to attend the upcoming meeting and "actively participate in the discussion of questions on the agenda." She did not elaborate.

The companies represented in the RSPP, known informally as the "oligarchs' trade union," account for more than 70 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to the group.

Vedomosti said the agenda and the date for the meeting had been in the works for several months and RSPP chief Alexander Shokhin had persuaded Putin to time the meeting to the group's anniversary.

The businessmen plan to ask Putin whether export duties on finished goods can be reduced and import duties abolished, among other things, Vedomosti said.

Oil and gas accounted for about 46 percent of exports last year, Vedomosti reported, citing Central Bank figures.

Attendees at the RSPP's 15th anniversary conference Wednesday are expected to include Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko and Severstal chairman Alexei Mordashov.

Under Putin's rule, the balance of power between the state and the oligarchs has shifted beyond recognition, as the RSPP has gone from setting the agenda to following the Kremlin's lead.

The turning point was widely seen as coming in 2003 with the arrest and prosecution of then-Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Since then, the oligarchs have sought to stay in the Kremlin's good books in an apparent effort to avoid a repetition of the Yukos affair.


(The Moscow Times 05.ii.07)

 
News Archive