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DMITRY MEDVEDEV MET WITH THE RUSSIAN UNION OF INDUSTRIALISTS AND ENTREPRENEURS

President Medvedev met with functionaries of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.


Dmitry Medvedev met with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (Union), yesterday. Instead of following the script, the president chose to give the floor to the businessmen who had never wanted or intended to speak up – bitter enemies Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska (the former loaned money to the latter).

The president wanted to hear what businessmen thought about modernization of national economy and effectiveness of budget costs. “That’s where we have serious problems,” Medvedev said.

Union President Alexander Shokhin was the first to speak. “Evaluating anti-crisis measures monthly or even quarterly is wrong,” he announced. “Constant growth is what is needed.” Shokhin suggested privatization of some state corporations right away. What he suggested was abandonment of government support for companies in 2010, abandonment of direct aid to the financial sector after that, and finally privatization of state-owned holdings.

Where state corporations were concerned, Medvedev said that “the ones we need and will need” should be transformed into joint-stock companies and the rest abolished.

Medvedev then said that he wanted to listen to a man who had never even intended to speak at the meeting, Alfa-Group CEO Fridman.

Fridman’s speech was centered around several laws. He called the law on competition too vague and announced that the legislation itself facilitated industrial takeovers. As for the law on bankruptcy, Fridman said that it favored borrowers. Fridman mentioned the provision requiring endorsement of every procedural move in the process of collection of debts by the majority of shareholders. Those present did not have to be told that it was a thrust at Deripaska, also present there. Deripaska had rescheduled debts to all creditors but Fridman’s Alfa-Group. The latter in the meantime wanted its money back. It had even tried once to have Deripaska’s Russian Aluminium recognized as a bankrupt. Deripaska brought the matter up to Medvedev this January but the conflict with Fridman was never resolved.

Medvedev acknowledged the necessity to amend the law on competition and told the presidential administration and the government to see to it. As for the law on bankruptcy, however, he chose to give the floor to Deripaska. “I’d like to listen to creditor’s victims now,” he sneered.

Deripaska started by saying that the law on bankruptcy was a must because the mechanism of financial recovery of companies could not appear without it. As matters stood, of 20,000 bankruptcies only 3 (!) had resulted in recovery so far, Deripaska announced and added ruefully, “One mean creditor is all it takes to spoil everything.”

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