Russian businessmen at the World Economic Forum in Davos struck a gloomy note this week, with many uncertain about the country’s direction and others warning a climate of corporate fear could hamper growth. The wealthy businessmen who ran Russia 10 years ago under President Boris Yeltsin lost their political influence during Vladimir Putin’s presidency in 2000-08.
During the global economic crisis, many have gorged on state bailouts. The state now controls about 60 percent of the economy and President Dmitry Medvedev’s call for modernisation to lessen the dependency on oil is falling on deaf ears as entrepreneurs are too scared to show initiative after years of what they see as state bullying. German Gref, CEO of Russia’s largest lender Sberbank, was the only Russian in Davos who spoke openly about the mood of fear gripping the private sector since the state takeover of oil major YUKOS several years ago.