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MT Index Points Out Resurgent Confidence

After taking a plunge in the wake of Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky's arrest last October, The Moscow Times Confidence Index for December is up more than 100 percent.

While the rating increased from 12 to 27 out of a possible 50, ratings for the top three woes -- corruption, political instability and the shaky legal system -- remained virtually unchanged.

"The current situation with the Khodorkovsky case seems to be quite stable, society has calmed down," said Alexei Mironov, head of marketing and business development at recruitment agency Coleman Services, one of the survey's respondents.

"The elections have calmed the situation. Even though people aren't entirely happy, the general understanding is that this will mean more stability in coming years," Mironov said.

"The main problems won't change in the coming month. People have a current understanding of the situation with corruption, and for that to change something very important must happen. If you think about the general political situation, then yes, something like the arrest of Khodorkovsky can change it, but if you talk about corruption and the situation with inflation, this only changes after a year or six months."

Yevgeny Abov, deputy general director of Prof-Media, which also participated in the survey, said he was not surprised by the upturn.

So far, there were "no such signs" of further aggressive moves against business along the lines of the Yukos clampdown, he said.

The MT Confidence Index, published on the first Monday of each month, collects its data from a pool of 440 executives across 22 industries. The index weights management opinion according to the size of the company and the position of the respondent.

Executives' confidence in their own companies remained firm at 30 points.

Not everyone expected the rise.

"The overall outcome of Duma elections was negative overall. Plus we still don't have a resolution on the Yukos issue," said Peter Westin, chief economist at Aton brokerage.

"There is a lot of trust in Russia -- it still hasn't gone away. But an increase like this, at a time like this, is perhaps surprising."

(The Moscow Times 12.i.04)

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