What Putin wrought has world asking what Russia might have been


When UK Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first leader of a major economy to meet Russia’s new president in March 2000, Vladimir Putin couldn’t have been more gracious. Accompanied by their wives, Putin showed Blair around the Hermitage museum in his hometown of St. Petersburg. At the Mariinsky Theater, they watched an operatic version of “War and Peace.” Blair praised Putin for seeking to modernize his economy and make it more open to foreign investment. Putin the week before had mentioned the idea of Russia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Russian arrest stings billionaires already hit by sanctions


The arrest of one of Russia’s oldest billionaires is sending shivers down the backs of business owners already reeling from US and European sanctions over President Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine. A decade after Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s imprisonment led to Russia’s largest nationalization since the Soviet era, the prosecution of Vladimir Evtushenkov, 65, may prod businesses to pull even more money out of an economy on the verge of recession and relocate abroad, Alexander Shokhin, who lobbies on behalf of the country’s largest companies as head of the Russian Union of Industrialists & Entrepreneurs, said yesterday. Evtushenkov was charged with money-laundering and placed under house arrest two days ago, triggering a sell-off in shares of his companies, including AFK Sistema, and slicing his net worth by a third, to $4.5billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Evtushenkov denies the charges. The case against Evtushenkov stems from a probe into the alleged theft of shares in oil assets in the central region of Bashkortostan that Sistema acquired in 2009, according to investigators.


Fall in North Sea tax receipts


The Scottish independence campaign has received “a body blow” with new figures showing tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas have dropped by almost a fifth, Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said.