Party Politics – Nezavisimaya Gazetais reporting that President Putin will likely become the official leader of United Russia at its upcoming party congress.
Corruption – Kommersantreports that 55% of Russians do not believe corruption can be defeated. On a more positive note, the percentage of respondents who thought that corruption had increased in the past year fell from 74% to 46%, which I think is pretty significant. Could this be related to the rise in public employees’ salaries last year? Meanwhile, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev proposed a novel anti-corruption measure – prohibiting ‘control agencies’ (e.g., fire, sanitary inspectors) from visiting small businesses without a court order.
UES Privatization – the state electricity monopoly continues its sell-off, with the announcement that Electricite de France and TransNeftServis will acquire UES’ OGK-1 utility, valued at $7 billion. UES is even selling its main office building in Moscow. The dismantling of UES should be complete by July. What’s next for Chubais?