Interview with James Brook
Russia Today: What impact might the new government have on the investment climate in Russia?
James Brook: I think what we are seeing is continuity which is what the Russian voters want most. There is a lot of talk in Moscow this morning that President Putin is preparing a Cabinet to hand to his successor that may well be retained. And I think this will reassure voters that continued growth will spark more investment – I mean one trillion dollars planned in government spending to 2020. Down in Sochi you had six thousand attendees at the conference. The investment climate is pretty good.
RT: Do you think there will be significant changes in government policy towards businesses in Russia?
J.B.: I don’t think so. I repeat that I think we have continuity here. We are entering the congressional and presidential election season which, whether it is the U.S., France or the UK, politicians say things they don’t necessarily mean. I think nervous foreign investors should take a deep breath and just wait to see what comes out in April.
RT: Concerning the dismissal of German Gref, the former Economic Development and Trade Minister – will the figure replacing him be continuing his economic policy?
J.B.: I think she is a Gref-clone, essentially. She worked for five years as his deputy, she ran his ‘brain trust’, his research institute. What is different is that she does not have his political muscle. I think we are going to see the rise of Kudrin. Kudrin’s deputy has just been made Minister of Health. The Economy Minister appears to be losing two departments, one is Regional Development and the other maybe Customs which is one half of the government’s revenue. So I think the political power is going to move to the Finance Ministry, to Mr Kudrin.