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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Russia's Top Businessmen Bemoan Putin's Sham Economy

As the Moscow Times reports:

Russia's big-business lobby sounded alarm bells Tuesday about the country's investment climate and warned that Russian industry was at risk of stagnation.

The economy might even face deindustrialization if more is not done to improve business environment and encourage private investment, said Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP.

High growth can be seen mainly in sectors that are protected from imports -- as well as in retail, financial and other services, and construction -- but other industries are stagnating, Shokhin said at RSPP's 15th annual congress.

"In the long-term, this threatens possible deindustrialization," he told the gathering of more than 600 businessmen from Russia's 88 regions, government officials and foreign entrepreneurs.

RSPP members produce 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to the lobby's estimates.

Economic growth slowed to 6.4 percent last year, compared with 7.2 percent in 2004, according to a report distributed by RSPP during the congress. Industrial output growth slowed to 4 percent from 8.3 percent in 2004, and natural resources extraction growth slowed to 1.2 percent from 7.2 percent in 2004, the report said.

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