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Putin calls for repatriation of capital

Speaking to a congress of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the national umbrella business association headed by former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, President Putin noted that too much Russian capital is working for Western economies and "Western economies that possess resources of Russian origin are not interested in them being removed," RIA-Novosti and other Russian news services reported on 19 June. He called on business and the government to create favorable conditions for repatriating Russian capital. "The government should not grab everyone by the arm and ask where this money came from, since the government itself failed to establish normal conditions for investment [in Russia]," Putin said. Aleksei Volin, Putin's deputy chief of staff, added that the government is considering an amnesty for capital that left the country because of political and economic instability, gazeta.ru reported on 19 June. "If only $100 billion of the estimated $300 billion that left Russia is repatriated, state budget revenues will be increased by 18.5 percent on account of income tax alone," Volin said.

...and Primakov seconds call for capital-flight amnesty

Addressing the same audience, Primakov urged the government to find "some form of amnesty for capital that fled the country," RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported on 19 June. Primakov argued that much of this money was exported for perfectly legitimate reasons. He stressed that Russia must continue to allow the free movement of capital into and out of the country while simultaneously creating incentives to encourage Russian business to repatriate their capital.

...as President meets with mystery banker

Following his speech to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President Putin met for two hours with Sergei Pugachev, a senator representing Tuva in the Federation Council and the former president of Mezhprombank, "Izvestiya" reported. The discussions reportedly centered on concrete ideas for repatriating Russian capital. However, the newspaper speculated that Putin also asked Pugachev, who is reputed to be the informal leader of the presidential "Petersburg clan," about a 18 June article in "Le Monde" alleging that Pugachev -- and possibly other unnamed members of the presidential entourage -- is involved in money laundering in France and Monaco. "Izvestiya" also quoted a source close to Pugachev as saying, "Discussing a newspaper publication is not on the presidential level." Pugachev is one of the least-known figures in Putin's inner circle, the newspaper wrote. He is known as a major sponsor of the Russian Orthodox Church and is reputed to have considerable influence over the president.

(RFE/RL 20.vi.02)

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