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PRIVATISATION IS THE NEW RUSSIAN GAME OF CHICKEN — CAN VLADIMIR PUTIN OUTFOX IGOR SHUVALOV?



 

I want to emphasise straight away that it must be a fundamentally different privatisation, one that has nothing to do with the practice of loans-for-shares auctions and other dubious deals that were widely used in the 1990s, when state-owned assets created by the previous generations of our people were acquired in corrupt deals that involved the abuse of power at markedly lower prices, often simultaneously and with the use of the state’s own funds.

This eventually corrupted entrepreneurial motivation, had a long-term negative effect on business ethics and led to profound systemic problems, including on the psychological and mental level. I am sure you will agree that it is difficult to demand public respect for property acquired in corrupt deals.

Unfortunately, and I have to admit it, the latest steps in this area demonstrate that little has changed since those times. I state this with deep regret. Therefore, it is obvious to us that the new privatisation should be unconditionally accepted by the Russian society, and hence it must be clear, fair and equitable, based on open and competitive sale of state assets, which will go to the best buyer who offers to pay the real price…Honest, fair privatisation, breaking the link between property and the authorities is a very powerful and real anti-corruption measure. Unfortunately corruption is without exaggeration the biggest threat to our development. The risks are even worse than the fluctuation of oil prices. People are tired of everyday corruption, of bribery in the state bodies, courts, the judiciary and state-owned companies…

I want to stress once again that our goal is not to build state capitalism. At the same time, privatisation must not lead to the emergence of private monopolies to replace the state-owned ones. We all know that without healthy competition a market economy is as prone to decay as the command-administrative system.

It is impossible to become truly competitive in the international arena without honest domestic competition, without the rule of law, without truth and justice in relations between business and the state. Competition in politics and the economy is the main engine of development. So I ask the Government of the Russian Federation to conduct a major revision of the practice of antitrust legislation and competition support. It must be done in close contact with the direct participants in the economy.

 

— President Vladimir Putin, St.Petersburg Economic Forum, June 21, 2012