CSE and CIS
William Browder, a grandson of the former General Secretary of the Communist Party USA, became one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia at the end of the 1990s. Mr. Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, who was initially an avid follower of Vladimir Putin and a critic of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, suddenly became public enemy No. 1. In 2006 he was expulsed from Russia on the claim that he poses a threat to national security. Soon afterwards some corrupted officials illegally seized his company. The company’s lawyer, Sergey Magnitsky, who exposed the scheme, was jailed and afterwards died in prison in mysterious circumstances. Mr. Browder did not lay down his weapons and started lobbying against corrupted Russian officials. Owing to his efforts, contrary to the suggestions of the Obama administration, in November 2012 the US Congress passed the so-called Magnitsky Act – banning several dozen individuals responsible for the lawyer’s death from entering the USA and freezing their bank accounts.
Recession looms over Ukraine. The oligarchs rule. A currency crisis may break loose at any time. Foreign investors demand a high risk premium, some of them retreat. High interest rates hamper domestic investment, while domestic consumption is stemmed by recession. And we do not have the first idea how poor our neighbour is.
Alexander Lukashenko remains firmly in control of Belarus's politics − as shown by the unsurprising result in recent parliamentary elections that saw his supporters take all 110 seats − but his biggest challenge in the next months will come from the economy.