New Moscow mayor to have business upside

The nomination of Sergey Sobyanin as Moscow Mayor, who is seen as having close ties to President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, has been greeted with optimism by the capital's business community.

A professional lawyer and an experienced manager who ruled Russia’s oil-rich Tyumen region, Sergey Sobyanin is no stranger to power. In 2005 he moved to Moscow to head the Kremlin administration and in just three years was appointed deputy Prime Minister. Tried and tested, he’s a right man to take the keys to Moscow, says Dmitry Pokikanov from United Russia party.

“I think, Sobyanin has enormous experience of working in the government, he’s known as an efficient professional, he’s managed to create an effective system within the Government stuff and he was quite successful as a governor of one of the richest regions in Russia.”

Sergey Sobyanin delivered his mayoral strategy to his future colleagues in the Moscow Duma. Among his top priorities are to reduce bureaucracy, fight corruption and improve the city's infrastructure. A lot of hopes are being pinned on the new mayor, not least by entrepreneurs, with Aleksandre Grot from Small Business Association expecting him to solve their small but still important problems.

“The new mayor should not only focus on global issues but also resolve smaller issues. It’s necessary to set up public councils attached to city districts dealing with small business. We also expect him to think how to alleviate excessive tax burden so that small companies would have an opportunity to invest in new technology.”

Irina Lavrentieva opened her little Greek cafe in the centre of Moscow in the middle of the extreme summer heat. Unlike many other entrepreneurs she was lucky to pass all the registration formalities smoothly. But an easy start doesn’t mean an easy road. Apart from high rent and interest rates she says red tape is the main thing holding her back. It's her strong hope that Sergey Sobayin will be able to work miracles.

“We hope the new mayor will sort out the weather next summer and it will be less hot. Seriously speaking, we want less bureaucracy and more transparency. Another important thing for small business is to have an opportunity to take part in real estate tenders for renting or buying it.”

The new head of Russia’s capital is cut from the same political cloth as the country's ruling tandem of President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. This offers the prospect of greater co-ordination between federal and local government in the country's biggest city. Moscow's small business people are cautiously optimistic that their lives may be made a little easier. But even they understand that although the problems in Moscow are well understood they are still prodigious.