Thomas Nastas is an American venture capitalist based in Moscow.
You can read Tom's profile in the Moscow Timeshere
Hungary, Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC), Chile and others are replicating the strategies that made Israel, the US, Korea and others so successful in the creation of knowledge economies. Do alternatives exist with less risk and better chances of success in taking a seat at the global table of tech developers?
This article was originally published in The Harvard Business Review's Russian and Hungarian language editions in 2007. To read this article in Russian, complete with text boxes, click here for a PDF version, here in Hungarian and here for an English translation.
Click on the extended post to read the rest of the article without text boxes. To read an abbreviated version of this article previously published on Russia Blog, click here.
The Seven Sisters (vysotki) were built on Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's orders between 1947 and 1953. These photos were taken by Tom and Katya Kiehn, a young professional couple living and working in Moscow.
Click on the extended post to view more photos of Moscow's most famous icons of modern architecture.
The Institute for Democracy and Cooperation: Less Democracy, More Cooperation, Please
Russia is opening a think tank in New York City
Russia has decided at long last to open in the West its own analytical center -- something that is often referred to as a think tank -- that goes under the generic name of the "Institute for Democracy and Cooperation." This should have been done ten or fifteen years ago, but in the difficult transition years Russia had obviously plenty of other things to worry about.
Having noted with satisfaction that it is better late than never, it would be interesting to find out what exactly these centers are intending to do. So far there have been no coherent answers to this question, only speculation and malicious comment from ill-wishers. The commonest view is that this is the Kremlin's "tit" for the "tat" of excessive criticism of Russia's "sovereign democracy" and interference by the West, above all by the United States, in Russia's internal affairs. Critical public statements by the American officials, media and NGOs as well as U.S. funding of various Russian oppositionist organizations have been irritating Moscow for a long time and finally the Empire decided to strike back.
Rankings Versus Reality: It's Time for Inside-the-Beltway Conservatives to Get Real on Russia
Last week, the Heritage Foundation, one of the largest and perhaps most influential think tanks in Washington, D.C., published its annual global rankings of economic freedom. While think tank reports seldom have as much impact as their authors would like to believe, this particular document was published in partnership with The Wall Street Journal.
The report claimed that out of 150 countries surveyed in 2007, Russia is now ranked 134th in the world in terms of economic freedom, allegedly slipping fourteen spots from its lowly 120th ranking at the end of 2006. Russia was supposedly less free than all of the other countries in the former Soviet Union, with the exceptions of Belarus and Turkmenistan. Russia is also said to be lagging far behind such surging economic powerhouses as Pakistan and Cambodia.
Innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, entrepreneurship and venture capital are ingredients in creating knowledge-based economies; witness the successes in California's Silicon Valley. Small economies countries like Israel and Singapore with little domestic demand for technology have developed unique approaches to exporting knowledge creation.
Russia is now investing to try to replicate the strategies that have been so successful for SMEs in Israel, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan -- the development of technologies for global markets. Do these strategies offer the best chances for success? Are there alternatives and, if so, how can Russia tap them to generate new wealth and prosperity?
Russia? Think Beyond Moscow! Discovery Institute Event in Seattle
Featuring Bill Robinson
Tuesday, January 15, 4:30 - 6:00 PM
Many Americans hold a Moscow-centric view of Russia, but the country is widely diverse—economically, ethnically, politically, and geographically. Much as American attitudes differ from one part of the country to another, economic development and politics in Russia paint a unique picture—especially when examined by region. So what is going on outside of Moscow, and what does it say about the 'average' Russian citizen? More importantly, what do recent events signify—if anything—about the future of U.S./Russia relations?
Join Bill Robinson, a distinguished international attorney and advisor to Discovery Institute's Real Russia Project, as he discusses these important issues. Since 1990, Mr. Robinson has worked with over 150 clients and projects in eight republics of the former Soviet Union and many regions of Russia. His firm advises clients on how to structure Russian business operations, and how to manage legal issues relating to trade and investment in Russia. The firm's practice is equally divided between representing Russian-owned companies, and Western or Asian companies doing business in Russia. He has visited Russia four times in the past year, and is currently working on projects in the Russian Far East, the Urals and Moscow. You won't want to miss the opportunity to hear a first-person perspective on life in modern day Russia and what the recent election results say about Russian attitudes towards their government.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is fresh off a primary victory in New Hampshire
The presidential race in the United States is gaining momentum. Both parties now have their crop of leaders and outsiders. Not surprisingly, these developments are being closely watched and analyzed in Russia with a view to identifying the contender with whom it would be preferable to do business in the future. This is no simple task, as the candidates' election rhetoric is not always consistent with what they will actually do on settling in the White House. Nevertheless, some conclusions can already be drawn.
The least welcome candidate, from Moscow's standpoint, is apparently Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who won the important New Hampshire primary. He is the fiercest critic of Russia and its President. McCain branded Russia "revanchist" and Putin "a dangerous person." He keeps calling for a new tough line on Russia and repeatedly said that Russia should be expelled from the G8. The West, tells McCain, should send Russia a clear signal that NATO doors remained open to all democracies, referring, no doubt, to Ukraine and Georgia.
Muscovites who live in the city's Strogino neighborhood received a nice gift from the City of Moscow for Orthodox Christmas -- a new subway station. The Strogino station is the 176th station of the Moscow Metro. The station has a modern design, unlike many Soviet-era stations. However, the benches and floors of the stations are decorated with expensive wood and granite. Combining functionality with luxury is a well-known tradition in the Moscow subway. If several million people have to spend a few hours each day underground, why not make their experience more pleasant?
The idea of building the metro was conceived on June 15, 1931 by the Communist Party. The first trains started running between Sokolniki, Park Kulturi, Okhotny Ryad, and Smolenskaya (the "red" line) on May 15, 1935, carrying 177,000 passengers daily. Today, the Moscow Metro is 292.9 km (182.5 miles) long and carries over ten million passengers a day. Statistics show that the metro carried 3.14 billion passengers in 1994. The trains leave every 40 seconds during rush hour, and every 3 minutes during later hours, travelling at 55-60 miles an hour. The stations are open from 5 am until 1:30 am, and it costs just 17 rubles (70 cents U.S.) to go anywhere in the city. Some of the stations are connected by a 4.2 mile monorail. Many foreign employees and executives who live in Moscow don't own cars and swear by using the metro in their daily routine.
Which indicators are proving the increasing stability and predictability of the Russian economy? First, there's the unprecedented rate of growth of foreign investment, which surged by a factor of 2.5 in 2007. None of the world's 15 leading national economies can compete with this achievement. Some $100 billion was invested in Russia from abroad over the last 12 months, an all-time record for any emerging market country and a milestone of great historical and psychological significance for Russian business.
Please, visit the extended post to read the full Forbes report.
President Putin greeting children at Krasnaya Polyana
It's kind of funny to be sitting here in Val D'Isere at an internet cafe listening to all the Russian tourists while back in Sochi the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics are just beginning.
I wonder what will happen to the local economies of the French, Swiss, and Italian ski villages when Krasnaya Polyana and Rosa Khotur are developed enough to convince the Russian skiing public that they might as well stay in Russia for their winter vacations?
Click on the extended post to read two articles detailing the newest developments around Sochi.
As 2007 drew to a close, U.S.-Russian relations remained troubled on a number of fronts, especially policy toward Iran, the expansion of NATO, and Kosovo's status.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has firmly opposed President Bush's plan to build a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland and has signaled changes to an important post-Soviet arms pact. Russia has also been critical of U.S. attempts to ratchet up pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program; in October 2007 Putin likened the Bush administration's posture toward Iran to "a madman with a razor blade" (al-Jazeera). Putin's increasingly anti-democratic moves have also raised alarm among both Republican and Democratic policymakers in Washington. At the same time, top officials and candidates from both parties have stressed the importance of engaging Russia on matters of strategic importance, in particular securing Russia's vast stocks of nuclear materials, to avoid proliferation to rogue states or other groups.
Click here to read the rest of the article at www.washingtonpost.com. Click on the extended post to read excerpts of select candidates views on U.S.-Russia relations.
Ringing in 2007 in from Spasskaya Tower in Red Square To watch President Vladimir Putin's 2008 New Year's address to the nation, click here. You can also watch the 2007 Russian presidential New Year's speech here
Today is New Year's Day, perhaps the most beloved family holiday on the Russian calendar. Today marks not only the beginning of the new year, but also of the extended holiday vacation season in Russia. Many Russians won't be returning to work until Monday, January 14.
January 1, 2008 also will see the merger of two Russian oblasts, Ust-Orda Buryatia and Irkutsk Oblast, following the results of a 2006 regional referendum in Siberia. The Russian Federation will now go from having 85 federal regions to 84.
From Russia Blog to our readers around the world, best wishes, health and happiness for the new year!