Rem Vyakhirev, chairman of Gazprom, said earlier this month that Russia’s gas giant had nothing to fear from a Communist victory in the June presidential elections: Gazprom was "too powerful a company with too important a role" to be attacked by the Kremlin, he asserted. (Financial Times, April 1) But last week Vyakhirev told a meeting of Gazprom managers that ensuring Boris Yeltsin’s reelection was one of the main tasks facing the company. A special department has reportedly been set up at Gazprom to support Yeltsin’s election campaign, with branches at every regional office of the company. (Segodnya, April 13)
Vagit Alekperov, president of Russia’s largest oil company, LukOil, is also backing Yeltsin. Alekperov warned this week that a Communist victory could mean not only political change, but also a change of economic course. "All the speculation [about nationalization] has already frozen the value of our shares," Alekperov complained. (Interfax, April 16) And Mikhail Khodorovsky, chairman of Menatep Bank, warned that even if a Communist president did not try to change economic course, a Communist victory would be likely to provoke a crisis of confidence among investors that would slow Russia’s economic recovery. Khodorovsky has just been named first deputy president of the Rosprom conglomerate, which includes the Yukos oil company. (Interfax, April 16)
UN Predicts Slow Economic Growth for Russia.