The view from St Petersburg: Arkady Dvorkovich

With business and economic leaders gathering for the St Petersburg International Economic Forum Business RT spoke with Russian Presidential Aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, about the importance of the forum and the economic outlook for Russia.

RT: Briefly outline for us the President’s address today.

AD:“Well the President will be talking about what we have achieved over the last couple of years, both in terms of stabilization after the crisis and our modernization plans.And we have a number of achievements – more projects, investments coming in, especially from big international companies, we have improvements in the investment climate. While we still have big problems like corruption, and barriers for small and medium sized business, our President will be putting down some of the new steps to improve the investment climate and especially in terms of making more competitive state related assets in the medium term perspective in terms of fighting corruption.That’s more or less about the domestic part of the story and he will also be talking about international efforts, both in the multilateral fora, and in the bilateral partnerships, including with China and how we can stabilize the global economy, how we can promote economic growth in the world.”

RT: And that’s a very important aspect, rooting out corruption in the Russian system, because, as I understand it, it is not only the fact that it exists but also the perception of it existing, because maybe it keeps companies from taking the steps in doing business in Russia.What concrete steps is he suggesting to help root out the problem?

AD:“Well the President came out with some of the specific initiatives a few weeks ago in Magnitogorsk, and we are already in the process of implementation of these initiatives.And I think perception is changing.We have more and more criminal investigations on corruption, and people already know that there is a big probability that they are going to be sued for those things, they are going to be punished for corruptive behavior.So people are much more careful about what they are doing, but the President believes that more steps are needed, and will make some new specific proposals about fighting corruption today.So we should expect more news.But also it is important that we should distinguish snapshot of Russia today, it is not always a good picture, from let’s say the movie.If we look at the movie Russia in the 90s, Russia 5 years ago and Russia now the progress is clear.We have improvements, we have investments, we have more than $300 billion accumulated foreign direct investments, and it makes a difference.”

RT: Now I have got to ask you this one, because there is uncertainty in the business community about the upcoming elections.Is there at least a timeline that you know of, for the President to announce whether he will be a candidate?

AD:“President Medvedev made it clear that we should not follow the requests of some people who ask please announce now or please announce next week, so that we should keep the situation stable according to the rules.The rules say that announcements can be made in the autumn this year, not in the summer.I don’t think, unless the situation will change, we should expect any announcement before the fall.”

RT: We recently heard that the Gazprom deal with China that was expected to be signed, has not put pen to paper on that, they are still working out some of the issues.Do you have any insight as to that?

AD:“There were some problems in the consultations in the last couple of weeks, so we will see today if progress is sufficient to reach the agreement or not.Yesterday the leaders of the two countries had bilateral consultations and certainly addressed issues, it was mentioned.Let’s call that we can resolve this soon.”