THE ANXIETIES OF BUSINESS
Novoe Vremya, February 24, 2002, p. 14
Opinion polls conducted among businesspeople show that 10% of them really use any means to influence administrative agencies, 22% do not suffer from any special impediments created by the government, and 68% try to avoid government structures. Most businesspeople view the state as a hindrance to business that needs to be overcome by any means possible, including bribery. For all explanations that state regulation of business is necessary for society, businesspeople still consider it an instrument for bureaucrats filling their pockets.
Around 47% of businesspeople think that the main obstacle to business is bad legislation, and 28% think that the state’s unreasonable interference in affairs of business is worst of all.
Many businesspeople (24%) view political instability as the most serious threat to their business; 21% have a problem with corruption, 15% are concerned about the safety of their families, and 14% are prevented from doing successful business by extortion rackets. Thus, business is still a rather dangerous activity in Russia.
KASYANOV IS AN AMERICAN AGENT
Zavtra, February 28, 2002, p. 1
According to our special sources in Washington, during the recent meetings between Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and representatives of the US administration, participants discussed eight main points that should change if Kasyanov becomes president of Russia. Among them are issues of the nation’s constitutional order (the nation should be transformed into a confederation); internationalization of all conflicts along Russia’s borders, with the introduction of NATO forces to the Trans-Dniester region, French troops to Nagorno-Karabakh, and Turkish forces to Abkhazia; complete submission of Russia’s military-technical programs to US interests, including rejection of all current contracts on deliveries of weapons to other countries; polarization of relations with India and China; tying the ruble strictly to the dollar according to a currency board system; Chechnya’s complete sovereignty; transfer of the Southern Kuril Islands to Japan; and participation of Russian troops in the occupation of Afghanistan. According to the same sources, the Americans proposed to re-register part of Russia’s foreign debts in favor of some financial structures close to Kasyanov as “payment in advance.” The US has also allegedly promised to fund a number of fictitious scientific-technical venture developments worth $750 million.
MOST RUSSIAN ENTREPRENEURS ARE OPTIMISTIC
Novoe Vremya, March 1, 2002, p. 13
Although most young people think that the most important things for business are strong fists and quick legs, the main point for business is education. Most businesspeople in Russia are educated people: 80% of them are college graduates, 8% have attended college without graduating, and only 12% have a high school education alone. Furthermore, many entrepreneurs continue to study while making money: 34% of them have a second degree, in management or economics. And 4% of businesspeople have Masters degrees or doctorates.
It seems that the era of wild criminal capitalism is receding into the past. Most enterprises of middle business have survived in the wild market of the 1990s and the default of 1998, and count on long-range activities in Russia. Those who counted on rapid profits and escape abroad have either achieved their aims or left business already.
The past two years suggested cautious optimism to businesspeople: 61% of them believe that profits of their companies have increased for this period, 30% state that they have not changed, and only 9% have noticed that their businesses have started to dwindle.
Meanwhile, the business class is not quite confident about its future: 44% of entrepreneurs only hope to maintain their current level for a year or two. However, 52% are thinking of expansion. Only 2% of businesspeople think that they will have to close their businesses.
HALF OF RUSSIANS PROUD OF THEIR COUNTRY
Profil, February 25, 2002, p. 4
The Public Opinion Foundation (POF) has asked people if they are proud of their country. Half of respondents (51%) said they are often proud of their country, whereas 33% seldom experience this feeling, and 9% have never had this feeling at all.
When asked what feeling they have more often, shame or pride, most respondents (39%) said that they are more often ashamed of Russia. Some 24% of respondents feel ashamed as often as they feel proud.
Most respondents (41%) are proud of Russia’s victory in World War II; 14% of Russians are proud of Russia’s record in outer space, and 3% are proud of Russia’s cultural achievements.
NOBODY LIKES RADIO LIBERTY
Kommersant-Vlast, February 26, 2002, pp. 54-55
The Belarussian authorities, displeased with contents of programs on Radio Liberty, have complained to Russia, since Radio Liberty broadcasts its programs for Belarus from Russia.
There has not been any official response to this complaint, although it is clear that it was pleasant for Russian opponents of the radio station. Now they have another serious argument in favor of depriving Radio Liberty of its license.
RUSSIA HAS WORLD’S LARGEST NUMBER OF HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE
Versiya, February 26, 2002, pp. 14-15
Main Infectious Diseases Control Officer of St. Petersburg Aza Rakhmanova says that the rate at which HIV is spreading in Russia is the highest rate in the world. According to Dr. Rakhmanova, every year the number of new cases increases in geometrical progression, and most of the HIV-positive are people aged 15-29. Overall, there are 147,000 HIV-positive people in Russia now.