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Monday, June 13, 2005


Europe, U.S. worried about Russia

From MosNews:

A vast majority of the elites in Europe and the U.S. are concerned about Russia’s retreat from democracy, according to a survey released today by Aspen Institute Berlin.

They agree that growing authoritarianism in the country, as illustrated among other things by the prosecution of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is “problematic for the West.” But the survey found less agreement among key thought leaders as to what specific policy measures should be employed by the West, or what impact the retreat will have on Russia’s investment climate, PRNewswire reported this week.

The survey, in particular, has revealed that awareness of the prosecution of Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky has become a significant issue among Western elites.

An exceptionally high 84-90% of European elites have followed the trial in the media, while only a 49% plurality of U.S. elites have been following the it.

Majorities in all three regions take the position that the trial is “primarily political” while only one-in-ten elites believe it’s a case of actual criminal wrongdoing.

Similarly, elites, by large margins, have concluded that the Khodorkovsky verdict was not fair, particularly in the U.S. at 73%, with 66% and 61% majorities in Western and Eastern Europe respectively.

While the assessment of Kremlin motives is also harsh, there is less clarity on this issue among Western European elites. 63% of U.S. elites and 58% of Eastern European elites believe the Kremlin intended to “punish an opponent and intimidate others” rather than prosecute wrongdoing by a businessman. Only 49% of Western European elites take this position.

However, respondents’ views varied as they were asked to comment on the investment climate in Russia. A 59% majority of elites in the U.S. have an unfavorable view of Russia as a place to invest, while only 41% take that view in Western Europe and, surprisingly, only 26% of Eastern Europeans are negative about Russian investment with fully 64% having a favorable view. Institutional investors as a class are divided about Russian investment prospects. 49% characterize the investment climate as favorable, while 42% consider it unfavorable.

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