As I grow older transitions are impinging more on my consciousness. The demise of Boris Berezovsky this weekend is a case in point. Was he a crooked manipulator, a brilliant businessman or a combination of the two? I don’t know, and frankly it is hard to care.
BSR has been moving towards launching its eponymous magazine, BSR Russia Magazine, and as we have positioned it as countering the Cold War attitudes towards Russia so prevalent in western media we have approached various businesses large and small in Russia and the UK with an offer to participate by advertising in the launch issue and “help counter the old stereotypes about Russia so prevalent in international media”.
While UK Prime minister David Cameron was in Mumbai, nine hour flight from London , proclaiming that he wanted India to open up its economy so British companies could help build hospitals, construct roads and provide universities a Russian delegation from the City of Moscow, a mere three hours flight from Heathrow were in London declaring they wanted British help to build tech centres, hospitals, invest in infrastructure and develop schools that would teach in English.
Those who know me since 2007 when I launched Business Special Report in Moscow know that I am increasingly passionate about exposing the myths and countering the hostile propaganda that engulf any attempt to have a rational, logical and objective discussion about Russia.
Even now, a demonstration that numbers far less than .02 per cent of the population, is reported as ‘rocking’ the government. The demonstrations were significant but they never threatened to topple the government. The myths surrounding the tragic death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 are now part of the national consciousness of the British public and the hostility directed at Vladimir Putin’s Russia is actively stoked by ill-wishers within the west’s security services and corridors of power who yearn for a return to the Cold War era when the Soviet Union was a clearly defined enemy.
These sentiments are clearly damaging to the international community’s relations with Russia and harm the development of trade and investment relations with the largest country on earth. Russia is 17 million square kms. It spans nine time zones from the borders of Europe to the Sea of Japan and an ice bridge that in winters allow snowmobiles to drive from Alaska to Chukotka in Russia. The country’s economy is fuelled by vast natural resources encompassing oil, gas, forests, diamonds, gold, copper, iron, aluminium, uranium, coal, phosphates…. The list goes on and ends with what could be the world’s most precious resource for future generations – water!
There is a revival under way in Russia.
- Ø A revival in the oil and gas industry as Russia prepares to exploit its arctic reserves in partnership with western companies Exxon and BP.
- Ø There’s a revival in the auto industry helped by international manufacturers lead by the Renault-Nissan alliance.
- Ø The country’s proud technological past is being revived by new alliances spurred by the Rusnano Corporation and the Skolkovo Foundation.
- Ø Russia is being revived as the agricultural powerhouse it once was with cowboys from Oklahoma riding herd on large cattle herds 200 miles south of Moscow and wheat silos springing up across the plains.
My aim is to build an information bridge between Europe and Russia so the real picture of an emerging country on the move can be appreciated and opportunities seized to build business. BSR Russia Magazine will launch in April 2013 with direct distribution by post to 20,000 readers in Russia and the EU.
The Conservative Party has abandoned its erstwhile Friends of Russia group but far from killing it off, the move has liberated the group’s Chairman Richard Royal and he has renamed the group the Westminster Russia Forum and brought in controversial former diplomat Craig Murray as guest speaker at its Old New Year dinner in the Samarqand Restaurant on the 14thJanuary. The author of Murder in Samarkand is expected to be well received by the audience and will be a far different speaker than the originally scheduled patrician Sir Malcolm Rifkind.