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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Leonid Reiman and the Russian Business Climate

One of the featured speakers at two prestigious symposiums in Washington this week on ways to promote new U.S.-Russian investment and business is a Russian government minister around whom allegations of corruption swirl.

Since the rule of law is a cornerstone of economic prosperity, this transcends irony. In fact, it is pitiful.

Specifically, Leonid Reiman, the Minister of IT and Communications of the Russian Federation, has landed prominent speaking roles at this week's sessions of the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium. (Other participants at the latter event include two cabinet Secretaries, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Energy Secretary Spence Abraham. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is associated with the former, as is Secretary of State Powell himself, who attended the U.S.-Russia Business Council's 2002 meeting.)

Rumors are rampant that numerous journalists are investigating allegations that Reiman has used his senior position in the Russian government for his own benefit.

Some of these rumors have made it into print:
Leonid Reiman, a key member of the St. Petersburg FSB group, deprived two leading Russian mobile phone companies of their frequencies so as to benefit a company favored by him. Fortunately, his decision was reversed by the government after public uproar.

-A Window on Russia Commentary by Anders Aslund, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
International investors will not have confidence in Russia unless and until they are convinced the corruption and abuse of the legal system are in its past and that abusers are dealt with. We Americans do our best service to Russia -- a nation with which we potentially could become fast friends -- when we model the behavior that leads to a just, thriving market economy. We can start by limiting our more prestigious invitations to those who have a reputation for advancing the principles under which prosperity and democracy thrive.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:20 PM

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