Medvedev to seek investors at Davos: aide

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev is to showcase the country's investment opportunities and openness to global business at the World Economic Forum next week, his top economic aide said Friday.

But the Russian delegation is also likely to face some uneasy questions after oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to a new jail term in a trial closely watched by the world as a key test of the business environment.

"The main signal that the president will give to our foreign partners will be that Russia is open to investment, to business," Arkady Dvorkovich told a press conference ahead of Medvedev's trip to Davos next Wednesday and Thursday.

Medvedev will answer a series of 'frequently asked questions' after his 20 minute opening address that the Forum is currently gathering via the Internet, Dvorkovich said.

On Wednesday, Dvorkovich admitted in an online interview that Russia will likely face "serious questions" about former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

A Moscow court on December 30 sentenced Khodorkovsky to 14 years in jail after finding him guilty of money laundering and embezzlement after a trial condemned by the West as politically motivated.

He was already serving jail time from a sentence from an earlier conviction in 2005. The second sentence means Khodorkovsky will stay in jail until 2017.

Struggling to tone down his earlier remarks and blaming journalists for taking his words out of context, Dvorkovich said that "most investors will continue to do business in Russia (despite) ... what happened in the Khodorkovsky case."

He admitted however that "Russia's investment climate is very bad," blaming corruption, a poor legal system, excessive bureaucracy and "many other things."

Russia is pressing to attract foreign investment as it enters a third deficit year ahead of presidential polls in 2012, burdened with an increasingly outdated infrastructure and an economy ever more dependent on oil and gas revenues.

President Medvedev has made economic modernization his personal mission, promoting Russia's own innovation hub Skolkovo on the outskirts of Moscow and promising to make the Russian capital into a global financial centre.

Dvorkovich said concrete deals are expected to be signed between Russian companies in the delegation and their foreign partners but ge gave no details.

While in Davos, Medvedev is expected to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Israel and Switzerland.

The delegation from Russia will include several ministers and regional heads, including the new Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and the governors of the Krasnodar and Tatarstan regions, Dvorkovich said.

© 2011 AFP

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