A vignette in a popular Russian newspaper describes what is says is a typical day for a member of Russia’s new business elite. A man with an unidentified business from an unidentified region, he is shown flying to Moscow for a whirl of business meetings and a $96 haircut, as well as wining, dining and bribing officials and parliamentarians. He spends a total of 50 minutes with his family (30 of them while on a home jogging-machine). Four employees, earning an average of $1,000 a month (far above the national average wage), are mentioned in passing.
Two points are striking. One is that, although his business is based outside Moscow, the businessman has to come to the capital for much of his wheeling and dealing. This belies the prevailing view of Russia’s regions as virtual sovereign states. The second is that the businessman is described — as if this were a matter of routine — bribing parliamentarians, buying media coverage of his business, and negotiating with the governor of his region and the vice-president of a Moscow bank about the conditions under which that bank should be allowed to open a branch in his home region. (Argumenty i fakty, No 18, April 30)
CFE Flanks Agreement Down to the Wire.