Daily Archives: April 3, 2007

Notes on the Upcoming Moscow Protest

A reader in contact with the Oborona opposition group reports that, not surprisingly, the proposed mid-April protest march in Moscow (on the main Pushkinskaya Square) by the “Other Russia” coalition has been banned by the Kremlin. The reader reports:

According to the authorities, a request for a different action planned for the same place and the same time was submitted “a minute before” the organizers of the march submitted theirs. Of course, the organizer of the “strike breaker” action was United Russia’s Young Guard. However, Other Russia’s activists were at that place for the whole morning and they saw no other people submitting their requests. Nor did the TV journalists who filmed the process of submitting the request for the march. So it seems that the request is fake. The administration suggests that the march should take place near V.V.C. (VDNKh) far from city center instead of Pushkinskaya square. The organizers will surely reject this proposal.

The reader also offers the following comments from Oborona about the protest, following up on the Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg events recent documented on LR (a second march in St. Petersburg may occur in mid-April as well):

A statement about the march was submitted to the Moscow administration on Friday – the earliest day allowed for this. Legally, we don’t need to get any permissions nor does the government have a right to ban a rally (if the statement was prepared and submitted correctly).

However, some Moscow officials have already claimed that they are not going to “let Nizhny Novgorod events happen in Moscow”. It means that they will probably try to ban the march, even illegally. Anyway, we’ll see it in a few days, I suppose.

The authorities are trying to prevent the march as usual: stickers inviting people to the march are removed, fake stickers have been printed and are distributed instead. These fake ones are made in the same colors and fonts but they say,” Russia is eternal and non-dividable. There isn’t and won’t be the ‘Other Russia'”.

According to the media Moscowadministration has even arranged a gay parade for 14 April and it will probably have the same route as the march. If this information is true, we’ll have to expect lots of LGBT people (fake or real) coming to the march and showing off. So the authorities will try to pretent that the march is connected with the LGBT movements. Ironically, just a year ago Moscow mayor Luzhkov claimed there would never be a gay parade in Moscow but now he decided ‘the discontent’ a bigger evil.

The United Russia’s youth union (Young Guard – Molodaya Gvardia) plans its own rally in for 14 April (but in a different place) and they claim they’ll bring 15,000 people there. They invite people in online forums for 200 roubles (approx. $7).

On 31 March there was a Communist rally in Moscow. It was quite small but lots of riot police was brought in and we saw a new anti-riot vehicle. It looks like a general repetition before the march.

There is going to be an Imperial March on 8 April. It is organized by a pro-Kremlin right-wing organization Eurasian Youth Union (ESM) and it’s directed against the “orangist opposition” and the West. Even United Russia’s youth union (Young Guard – Molodaya Gvardia) is going to join.

The reader offers some additional observations:

1. President’s Administration approaches all the parties to sign an “anti-extremist” agreement. It says that the parties will not take part in any “extremist” activities nor will they support “extremists” at the elections. The exact text of the statement is kept secret, even from those who are going to sign it. United Russia (Spravedlivaya Rossia) and Yabloko have already agreed to sign it.

2. Not directly connected with the march but also an interesting event. The SPS federal board has effectively dismissed party’s Moscow branch and suspended its board. This happened because Moscow was an opposition enclave in SPS, had too anti-Putin position and even decided to join the march (despite the federal party’s decision to ignore it). So it looks like the SPS is finally becoming a pro-Putin party.

3. There are rumors that some officials from Putin’s Administration offered $50,000 to an LGBT activist for organizing a gay parade during the March of Discontent.

The Moscow Times reports:

The Other Russia, a coalition of political opposition groups, applied Friday for a permit to hold a large-scale march in central Moscow on April 14. The so-called Dissenters’ March will take place with or without a permit from City Hall, organizers said. “We have a constitutional right to hold peaceful demonstrations,” said Alexander Averin, spokesman for the unregistered National Bolshevik Party, who submitted the application.

City officials promised a decision by Wednesday, Averin said. The Other Russia has also applied for a permit to hold a march in St. Petersburg on April 15. Police dispersed similar marches last month in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Last December, some 2,500 activists from The Other Russia descended on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad, where they were surrounded by 8,500 riot police officers. “It is obvious that as the authorities take a harder line, the chances increase that the power vertical will simply collapse,” former chess champion turned opposition leader Garry Kasparov told reporters Friday.

Kasparov heads the United Civil Front, which is joined in The Other Russia by writer Eduard Limonov’s National Bolshevik Party and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov’s Popular Democratic Union. Organizers say the march will proceed down Tverskaya Ulitsa to Teatralnaya Ploshchad. They expect up to 5,000 people to attend. Nikolai Kulikov, the city’s point man on security, said the needs of drivers would be factored into the decision, adding that drivers “aren’t likely to take kindly to street closures in the city center on a weekend,” Kommersant reported Friday. Kulikov’s secretary referred all questions to Sergei Tsoi, spokesman for Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

Tsoi was unavailable for comment Friday. In addition to a large police presence, organizers of the April 14 march are expecting to clash with a handful of nationalist Russian Orthodox Church groups, which have threatened the marchers. “If we aren’t scared of thousands of OMON [riot police], then why should we be scared of these groups?” Averin said. As well as flags with anti-Putin slogans, some of the demonstrators will be brandishing the black, yellow and white imperial flag, a powerful nationalist symbol. Yegor Ovchinnikov, co-director of Georgiyevtsy!, a nationalist Orthodox youth group, threatened retaliation against anyone carrying the flag during the march. “If participants of the march attack us, we will defend ourselves,” he told Kommersant. “And if they raise the imperial flag, we will consider that to be an attack,” “Ovchinnikov’s words do not scare us,” Averin said.

Pavel Zarifullin, a leader of the EuroAsian Youth Union, which calls for the return of imperial rule and emphasizes the role of the Russian Orthodox Church, said he was joining with other youth organizations to defy the dissenters. “The Other Russia says it wants ‘freedom against,'” Zarifullin said. “We want ‘freedom for.'”


London in the Bear’s Embrace

Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (pictured), a native Muscovite and currently a New York-Based economist, offers the following ominous thoughts on the infiltration of

In a song cataloguing the ills of contemporary Russia, sardonic balladeer Timur Shaov sings about Russians who choose to leave the country, cautioning them: “London is not elastic, we won’t all fit there.”

Londoners probably exaggerate when they claim that rich Russians have driven up their real estate prices — they used the same complaint against rich Arabs in the 1970s — but it is true that the vibrant, free-spending Russian community has contributed to the social, cultural and economic revival of the British capital.

There are Russian-speaking enclaves in Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, but London has become the undisputed hub of Russian expat life, usurping the role played by Paris in the 1920s.

There are many reasons for this. English, rather than French before the Revolution or German in the early Soviet period, is now the foreign language a Russian is most likely to speak. London is closer to Moscow than New York, while getting a British visa is easier — and a damn sight less humiliating — than dealing with the rude and bureaucratic U.S. Consulate.

Britain has had a special connection to post-communist Russia ever since British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared in 1984 that she could do business with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian colonization of London was started in the early 1990s by U.S. citizens of Russian-Jewish descent who flocked to the old country to make money but prudently parked their families in London. Many U.S. multinationals and financial institutions still run their Russian operations from Britain.

The 53 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list probably spend more time in Britain than anywhere else, including their native country. One, Roman Abramovich, has taken Chelsea to the top of English football. Another, Boris Berezovsky, has emerged as the Leon Trotsky of the Putin era and has turned London into the nerve center of Russian political opposition.

In fact, there has been talk of the British losing patience with their Russian residents after the poisoning last year of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. However, while the Brits may consider it bad manners to place highly radioactive polonium-210 into a restaurant teakettle, they are used to East Europeans settling scores in London, such as the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov with a poisoned umbrella tip.

The British love affair with Russia will continue as long as it is good for business. So far, business has been great. Over the past three years, Russian companies have been instrumental in helping the City of London pull ahead of Wall Street as a global financial center. Russian IPOs totaled $4.9 billion in 2005 and rocketed to $14.5 billion last year. If analysts in are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Russian firms big and small are expected to go public in coming years.

Most are likely to find their way to the London Stock Exchange and to its Alternative Investment Market, geared to small, rapidly growing startups. Russian companies are especially attracted to London because it offers laxer rules for listed companies than New York, where regulations were tightened in the aftermath of Enron and other malfeasance at the start of the decade.

Russian corporate governance is notoriously shoddy, and many would not have been able to list in New York at all. And state-owned Rosneft, which alone raised over $10 billion in London last year, acquired its most valuable oil-producing assets after the government stripped them from Yukos.

Russian stocks suffered one of the worst sell-offs during the global market decline in late February and early March. This may not be the end of market selling. Investors should not forget that during the 1998 ruble crisis Russian companies didn’t hesitate to cheat their foreign investors. London may yet come to regret the bear’s hug.

London in the Bear’s Embrace

Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (pictured), a native Muscovite and currently a New York-Based economist, offers the following ominous thoughts on the infiltration of

In a song cataloguing the ills of contemporary Russia, sardonic balladeer Timur Shaov sings about Russians who choose to leave the country, cautioning them: “London is not elastic, we won’t all fit there.”

Londoners probably exaggerate when they claim that rich Russians have driven up their real estate prices — they used the same complaint against rich Arabs in the 1970s — but it is true that the vibrant, free-spending Russian community has contributed to the social, cultural and economic revival of the British capital.

There are Russian-speaking enclaves in Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, but London has become the undisputed hub of Russian expat life, usurping the role played by Paris in the 1920s.

There are many reasons for this. English, rather than French before the Revolution or German in the early Soviet period, is now the foreign language a Russian is most likely to speak. London is closer to Moscow than New York, while getting a British visa is easier — and a damn sight less humiliating — than dealing with the rude and bureaucratic U.S. Consulate.

Britain has had a special connection to post-communist Russia ever since British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared in 1984 that she could do business with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian colonization of London was started in the early 1990s by U.S. citizens of Russian-Jewish descent who flocked to the old country to make money but prudently parked their families in London. Many U.S. multinationals and financial institutions still run their Russian operations from Britain.

The 53 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list probably spend more time in Britain than anywhere else, including their native country. One, Roman Abramovich, has taken Chelsea to the top of English football. Another, Boris Berezovsky, has emerged as the Leon Trotsky of the Putin era and has turned London into the nerve center of Russian political opposition.

In fact, there has been talk of the British losing patience with their Russian residents after the poisoning last year of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. However, while the Brits may consider it bad manners to place highly radioactive polonium-210 into a restaurant teakettle, they are used to East Europeans settling scores in London, such as the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov with a poisoned umbrella tip.

The British love affair with Russia will continue as long as it is good for business. So far, business has been great. Over the past three years, Russian companies have been instrumental in helping the City of London pull ahead of Wall Street as a global financial center. Russian IPOs totaled $4.9 billion in 2005 and rocketed to $14.5 billion last year. If analysts in are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Russian firms big and small are expected to go public in coming years.

Most are likely to find their way to the London Stock Exchange and to its Alternative Investment Market, geared to small, rapidly growing startups. Russian companies are especially attracted to London because it offers laxer rules for listed companies than New York, where regulations were tightened in the aftermath of Enron and other malfeasance at the start of the decade.

Russian corporate governance is notoriously shoddy, and many would not have been able to list in New York at all. And state-owned Rosneft, which alone raised over $10 billion in London last year, acquired its most valuable oil-producing assets after the government stripped them from Yukos.

Russian stocks suffered one of the worst sell-offs during the global market decline in late February and early March. This may not be the end of market selling. Investors should not forget that during the 1998 ruble crisis Russian companies didn’t hesitate to cheat their foreign investors. London may yet come to regret the bear’s hug.

London in the Bear’s Embrace

Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (pictured), a native Muscovite and currently a New York-Based economist, offers the following ominous thoughts on the infiltration of

In a song cataloguing the ills of contemporary Russia, sardonic balladeer Timur Shaov sings about Russians who choose to leave the country, cautioning them: “London is not elastic, we won’t all fit there.”

Londoners probably exaggerate when they claim that rich Russians have driven up their real estate prices — they used the same complaint against rich Arabs in the 1970s — but it is true that the vibrant, free-spending Russian community has contributed to the social, cultural and economic revival of the British capital.

There are Russian-speaking enclaves in Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, but London has become the undisputed hub of Russian expat life, usurping the role played by Paris in the 1920s.

There are many reasons for this. English, rather than French before the Revolution or German in the early Soviet period, is now the foreign language a Russian is most likely to speak. London is closer to Moscow than New York, while getting a British visa is easier — and a damn sight less humiliating — than dealing with the rude and bureaucratic U.S. Consulate.

Britain has had a special connection to post-communist Russia ever since British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared in 1984 that she could do business with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian colonization of London was started in the early 1990s by U.S. citizens of Russian-Jewish descent who flocked to the old country to make money but prudently parked their families in London. Many U.S. multinationals and financial institutions still run their Russian operations from Britain.

The 53 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list probably spend more time in Britain than anywhere else, including their native country. One, Roman Abramovich, has taken Chelsea to the top of English football. Another, Boris Berezovsky, has emerged as the Leon Trotsky of the Putin era and has turned London into the nerve center of Russian political opposition.

In fact, there has been talk of the British losing patience with their Russian residents after the poisoning last year of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. However, while the Brits may consider it bad manners to place highly radioactive polonium-210 into a restaurant teakettle, they are used to East Europeans settling scores in London, such as the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov with a poisoned umbrella tip.

The British love affair with Russia will continue as long as it is good for business. So far, business has been great. Over the past three years, Russian companies have been instrumental in helping the City of London pull ahead of Wall Street as a global financial center. Russian IPOs totaled $4.9 billion in 2005 and rocketed to $14.5 billion last year. If analysts in are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Russian firms big and small are expected to go public in coming years.

Most are likely to find their way to the London Stock Exchange and to its Alternative Investment Market, geared to small, rapidly growing startups. Russian companies are especially attracted to London because it offers laxer rules for listed companies than New York, where regulations were tightened in the aftermath of Enron and other malfeasance at the start of the decade.

Russian corporate governance is notoriously shoddy, and many would not have been able to list in New York at all. And state-owned Rosneft, which alone raised over $10 billion in London last year, acquired its most valuable oil-producing assets after the government stripped them from Yukos.

Russian stocks suffered one of the worst sell-offs during the global market decline in late February and early March. This may not be the end of market selling. Investors should not forget that during the 1998 ruble crisis Russian companies didn’t hesitate to cheat their foreign investors. London may yet come to regret the bear’s hug.

London in the Bear’s Embrace

Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (pictured), a native Muscovite and currently a New York-Based economist, offers the following ominous thoughts on the infiltration of

In a song cataloguing the ills of contemporary Russia, sardonic balladeer Timur Shaov sings about Russians who choose to leave the country, cautioning them: “London is not elastic, we won’t all fit there.”

Londoners probably exaggerate when they claim that rich Russians have driven up their real estate prices — they used the same complaint against rich Arabs in the 1970s — but it is true that the vibrant, free-spending Russian community has contributed to the social, cultural and economic revival of the British capital.

There are Russian-speaking enclaves in Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, but London has become the undisputed hub of Russian expat life, usurping the role played by Paris in the 1920s.

There are many reasons for this. English, rather than French before the Revolution or German in the early Soviet period, is now the foreign language a Russian is most likely to speak. London is closer to Moscow than New York, while getting a British visa is easier — and a damn sight less humiliating — than dealing with the rude and bureaucratic U.S. Consulate.

Britain has had a special connection to post-communist Russia ever since British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared in 1984 that she could do business with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian colonization of London was started in the early 1990s by U.S. citizens of Russian-Jewish descent who flocked to the old country to make money but prudently parked their families in London. Many U.S. multinationals and financial institutions still run their Russian operations from Britain.

The 53 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list probably spend more time in Britain than anywhere else, including their native country. One, Roman Abramovich, has taken Chelsea to the top of English football. Another, Boris Berezovsky, has emerged as the Leon Trotsky of the Putin era and has turned London into the nerve center of Russian political opposition.

In fact, there has been talk of the British losing patience with their Russian residents after the poisoning last year of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. However, while the Brits may consider it bad manners to place highly radioactive polonium-210 into a restaurant teakettle, they are used to East Europeans settling scores in London, such as the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov with a poisoned umbrella tip.

The British love affair with Russia will continue as long as it is good for business. So far, business has been great. Over the past three years, Russian companies have been instrumental in helping the City of London pull ahead of Wall Street as a global financial center. Russian IPOs totaled $4.9 billion in 2005 and rocketed to $14.5 billion last year. If analysts in are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Russian firms big and small are expected to go public in coming years.

Most are likely to find their way to the London Stock Exchange and to its Alternative Investment Market, geared to small, rapidly growing startups. Russian companies are especially attracted to London because it offers laxer rules for listed companies than New York, where regulations were tightened in the aftermath of Enron and other malfeasance at the start of the decade.

Russian corporate governance is notoriously shoddy, and many would not have been able to list in New York at all. And state-owned Rosneft, which alone raised over $10 billion in London last year, acquired its most valuable oil-producing assets after the government stripped them from Yukos.

Russian stocks suffered one of the worst sell-offs during the global market decline in late February and early March. This may not be the end of market selling. Investors should not forget that during the 1998 ruble crisis Russian companies didn’t hesitate to cheat their foreign investors. London may yet come to regret the bear’s hug.

London in the Bear’s Embrace

Writing in the Moscow Times Alexei Bayer (pictured), a native Muscovite and currently a New York-Based economist, offers the following ominous thoughts on the infiltration of

In a song cataloguing the ills of contemporary Russia, sardonic balladeer Timur Shaov sings about Russians who choose to leave the country, cautioning them: “London is not elastic, we won’t all fit there.”

Londoners probably exaggerate when they claim that rich Russians have driven up their real estate prices — they used the same complaint against rich Arabs in the 1970s — but it is true that the vibrant, free-spending Russian community has contributed to the social, cultural and economic revival of the British capital.

There are Russian-speaking enclaves in Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York, but London has become the undisputed hub of Russian expat life, usurping the role played by Paris in the 1920s.

There are many reasons for this. English, rather than French before the Revolution or German in the early Soviet period, is now the foreign language a Russian is most likely to speak. London is closer to Moscow than New York, while getting a British visa is easier — and a damn sight less humiliating — than dealing with the rude and bureaucratic U.S. Consulate.

Britain has had a special connection to post-communist Russia ever since British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously declared in 1984 that she could do business with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian colonization of London was started in the early 1990s by U.S. citizens of Russian-Jewish descent who flocked to the old country to make money but prudently parked their families in London. Many U.S. multinationals and financial institutions still run their Russian operations from Britain.

The 53 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list probably spend more time in Britain than anywhere else, including their native country. One, Roman Abramovich, has taken Chelsea to the top of English football. Another, Boris Berezovsky, has emerged as the Leon Trotsky of the Putin era and has turned London into the nerve center of Russian political opposition.

In fact, there has been talk of the British losing patience with their Russian residents after the poisoning last year of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. However, while the Brits may consider it bad manners to place highly radioactive polonium-210 into a restaurant teakettle, they are used to East Europeans settling scores in London, such as the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov with a poisoned umbrella tip.

The British love affair with Russia will continue as long as it is good for business. So far, business has been great. Over the past three years, Russian companies have been instrumental in helping the City of London pull ahead of Wall Street as a global financial center. Russian IPOs totaled $4.9 billion in 2005 and rocketed to $14.5 billion last year. If analysts in are to be believed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of Russian firms big and small are expected to go public in coming years.

Most are likely to find their way to the London Stock Exchange and to its Alternative Investment Market, geared to small, rapidly growing startups. Russian companies are especially attracted to London because it offers laxer rules for listed companies than New York, where regulations were tightened in the aftermath of Enron and other malfeasance at the start of the decade.

Russian corporate governance is notoriously shoddy, and many would not have been able to list in New York at all. And state-owned Rosneft, which alone raised over $10 billion in London last year, acquired its most valuable oil-producing assets after the government stripped them from Yukos.

Russian stocks suffered one of the worst sell-offs during the global market decline in late February and early March. This may not be the end of market selling. Investors should not forget that during the 1998 ruble crisis Russian companies didn’t hesitate to cheat their foreign investors. London may yet come to regret the bear’s hug.

More on Gazprom’s March into Europe

Writing in the Korea Herald Keith C. Smith, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C, offers the following analysis of Russian energy imperialism in Europe:

When Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, cut off supplies to Ukraine and Georgia in January 2006, the move was widely seen as a clear warning of the Kremlin’s willingness to use its energy resources to exert political influence over Europe. Twelve months later, Russia drummed home the significance of that act by shutting off oil supplies to Belarus for three days, causing a ripple effect on shipments to Western Europe.

Despite these supply-side threats, there have been few signs of an effective European Union-wide policy that would reduce dependence on Russian energy. The European Commission’s energy proposals, issued in January, are a step in the right direction. But they will have little direct effect on Russia’s energy relations with Europe, because they do not oblige Russia to adopt more competitive and transparent energy transport and investment policies.

On the contrary, European countries continue to forge bilateral deals with Russia, with little consideration for common EU interests. The West European EU members have shown scant concern over Russian pressure tactics against the new members in Central and Eastern Europe, calling into question the extent of EU solidarity regarding energy supplies. Since the Kremlin interrupted energy supplies to the Baltic states in 1990 in a futile attempt to stifle their independence movements, it has continued to use pipeline politics against countries such as Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania – all new EU members. For them, and for new democracies like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, Russian energy dominance and its political consequences remain a serious threat.

Russia has profited from Europe’s disarray by moving to cement greater long-term European dependence on its energy, particularly natural gas by continuing its divide-and-rule tactics toward European governments. Since January 2006, Moscow has negotiated separate deals with energy companies from Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, and Denmark that could undercut Europe’s efforts to build additional pipelines aimed at bypassing Russia’s near monopoly of supplies from Central Asia.

It initially appeared that Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel would be more sensitive to the energy security of Central and Eastern Europe. However, Merkel approved the expensive Northern Europe Gas Pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea, negotiated between her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder and President Vladimir Putin, and strongly opposed by fellow EU member Poland, which the pipeline will bypass. The NEGP will cost at least eight times as much as the alternative Yamal II pipeline, which would have gone overland through Poland.

Despite the European Commission’s good intentions, the EU’s larger members continue to resist submitting to a common EU energy policy. In mid-November, EU foreign ministers failed to agree on a common approach to Russian energy – just as reports resurfaced that Russia may seek to establish a natural gas cartel similar to OPEC.

The EU’s political will to counter its increasing dependence on Russia in the immediate future is thus open to serious doubt. Indeed, for the next five to ten years, Russia will be able to fulfill its gas contracts in Europe only by monopolizing exports of gas to Europe from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. But the EU so far has chosen to ignore that Gazprom’s monopoly is a clear violation of the anti-trust and competition policies of the revised Rome Treaty and WTO obligations.

Russia clearly believes that the current tight world energy market and high prices give it enough leverage over the West to maintain its current approach. Russia consistently refuses to allow Western companies the same access to Russian facilities that Russian state energy companies already enjoy in Europe and the United States. That is likely to remain true as long as the West fails to adopt an energy strategy that causes the Kremlin to change course.

Putin denies that Russia is using its energy resources to coerce European governments, arguing that the decrease in gas supplies to Western Europe during the cut-off of gas to Ukraine in January 2006 was the result of Ukrainian “theft.” In its dispute with Belarus in January 2007, Russia leveled a similar accusation of theft from the oil pipeline that crosses the country. It also claims to have been subsidizing the price of energy to the Commonwealth of Independent States, when in reality it is the Central Asians who have been subsidizing Russia to an even greater extent.

Although the EU Commission appears to be committed to building a more open, competitive energy market in Europe, action against Russia’s noncompetitive practices within the EU has taken a back seat to internal differences over takeover battles for national energy “champions” involving companies from other member states. Russia must be convinced that its resources will be far more valuable if they are opened to international investment, managed transparently, and operated according to the legal and commercial rules of the international trading system. But that is unlikely in the absence of strong and unified European action.