ASSESSMENTS

Reining in Putin's Cronies

MIN READMay 17, 2016 | 19:20 GMT

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin (R), CEO of state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft, may be at odds in debates over proposals to make state firms pay more funds to the government.

(MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow is desperate for cash. In the midst of a recession caused by low oil prices, Western sanctions and anemic foreign investment, the government needs revenue to meet budget shortfalls. The Kremlin has already cut the government budget twice since the end of 2015 -- 10 percent each time. It now aims to keep this year's budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product. So it has turned to Russia's massive state-owned corporations for help. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is drafting directives that would require these companies to pay a minimum of 50 percent of their net profits via dividends to the government. But state firms and their powerful patrons, known as the silovarchs, are pushing back against the proposal....

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