Magazine article Newsweek International

Igor Shuvalov: Russia's Modernization Czar

Magazine article Newsweek International

Igor Shuvalov: Russia's Modernization Czar

Article excerpt

Byline: Owen Matthews

Igor Shuvalov is first deputy to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, charged with reforming Russia's economy. He also runs Russia's $200 billion sovereign wealth fund. Considered one of the key liberal voices in Russia today, Shuvalov has the task of helping wean the country off its dependence on natural resources. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Owen Matthews in Moscow. Excerpts:

Two years into President Dmitry Medvedev's anti-corruption campaign, Russia remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

There's a difference between our image abroad and the real investment climate. Studies of foreigners who actually work in Russia show that, yes, they meet corruption and other difficulties every day, but they have a more positive perception than you read in foreign studies. So we need to work on our information policy. But we're not divorced from reality; we can also see that there's a real problem.

The experience of foreign and Russian companies that have been stolen from their owners suggests that well-connected bureaucrats can take what they want. What are you doing about that?

Strengthening property rights is one of our key priorities. We've passed new rules to make it harder to steal companies. We can't pretend that we'll change the whole system instantly, but it's our job to change something every day. At the same time, no country can allow foreign investors to do whatever they like. We've become more civilized over the last 10 years, and investors also have to learn that they can't behave like barbarians.

Many investors see the case of Sergei Magnitsky--the lawyer who tried to expose a $500 million official tax fraud, and died in jail last year--as a worrying sign that the government is reluctant to investigate or prosecute top officials.

Don't rush to judgment. A detailed investigation will take time. …

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