Russia Refuses to Obey West - 18 October, 2002

The Wall Street Journal   wrote today that  Russia’s plans  to join the WTO are under the threat of  failure. Russia is being too uncompromising. No one is going to grant the WTO membership to Russia on such conditions.

According to a Wall Street Journal observer, President Putin’s intentions  to join the WTO at all costs are under threat of an aggressive lobby of Russian businessmen. The latter are concerned about free competition with foreign businesses. As a result, Russia did not manage to bring its laws into line with WTO requirements. It refuses to liberalize its home prices on energy, and  it insists on high import tariffs and on restrictions of foreign participation in the service field.

Russia’s bad luck with the WTO  will be a bad piece of news for many Western banks, oil companies, and other multi-national enterprises, which managed to get into the Russian market. China was incorporated into the WTO last year. Russia is actually now the only large power that is still not a member.

Being a WTO member would provide Russia with  export markets and foreign investment, which Russia needs. However, Vladimir Putin’s hopes  were shattered with the growing opposition by Russian industry (especially machine-building and pharmaceutical industries).

The leader of the Russian delegation, Maksim Medvedkov, said that  Russia would join the WTO only based upon good conditions, “It doesn't matter if it happens in 2003 or in 2030.” Russia would like to avoid the  fate  of other socialist countries. The banking and financial systems of those countries  turned out to be subordinated to Western structures as a result of their WTO membership.

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (he is considered to be the aluminium, car, pulp, and insurance king in Russia) was totally against Russia’s membership in the WTO. Deripaska has an ill reputation in the West , by the way. There is a series of pending cases against him in the West currently. Oleg Deripaska harshly criticized  the government and one  of the major supporters of WTO membership, German Gref (Minister for Economic Development and Trade). Deripaska found faults with the incorrect  priorities of the economic policy of the government.

Another Russian oligarch,  the head of the oil company Yukos, Mikhail Khodorovsky, gave a scolding  to Oleg Deripaska in the media. Khodorovsky stated that the Russian business community  will not miss the possible advantages of WTO membership. However, Vladimir Putin indirectly supported  Oleg Deripaska. Putin claimed that Russia was not going to abandon its own “natural advantages” to please the interests of the West.

Dmitry Slobodanuk

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka