Saint Petersburg, Russia. — When Russian President Vladimir Putin invited a journalist for NBC Megyn Kelly to ask him questions on the stage held here pompous forum, he probably thought that it would be easier than Donald Trump, came into confrontation with Kelly during the election campaign of 2016. But it didn’t work.
Putin with his appearance at the St. Petersburg international economic forum wanted to demonstrate the role of Russia in the global economy. With his prepared speech, he looked like a welcoming, calm and sociable salesman, acting in the interests of his country. But then began a conversation with Kelly in which sharp questions about the hacking scandal, Syria and the Ukraine. At this point, Putin has become more aggressive, sarcastic and resentful.
Probably, the Russian liked his combative speech. It is an integral part of his signature style, and Putin undoubtedly popular at home. But the events of that day showed how allegations of Russian interference in the Affairs of other countries, seems to be proving the revival of the power and influence of Russia may undermine Putin’s attempts to attract more foreign investment and strengthen the international position of Moscow.
For their sharpness Putin has to pay. For example, today probably less likely for the lifting of economic sanctions than at last year’s forum in St. Petersburg. Managers of American corporations with business interests in Russia, “sit with their heads down,” said working in this country, a leading American businessman. “It’s hard to attract new investment into the country, when the political situation in Russia is so much uncertainty,” he said.
Kelly sharply and repeatedly asked Putin questions about hacking and other controversial topics. He answered somewhat resentfully, in particular, made a swipe at the “hysterical critics”, proposing to give them any pill. In another moment the President said that the American media needs to stop idle talk about Russia, which is hurting diplomacy.
This forum has become a costly attempt to change Russia’s image and present it in a different light. It was held in the image and likeness of Davos, with discussions and debates, which were attended by hundreds of bankers and business leaders. This time the official theme of the forum was to find “a new balance”, as the global economic weight of Russia is increasing, and the United States as if reduced. Many technical projects are advertised on the forum, was very attractive.
The topics of discussions are passed ambitious spirit of the event. “Macroeconomic policies — from stabilization to growth”, “European and Eurasian integration; prospects of mates” and even the most improbable against the background of recent doping scandals: “Sport — space of trust”.
The Russians, with whom I spoke in St. Petersburg and Moscow, openly talked about the fact that Russia is still a very long way.
“Institutions are not sufficiently developed, — said the political science Professor and former government official Andranik Migranyan. — This is a very personalized system, in which Putin feels the need to provide guidance by hand.” In addition, Russia is still very much dependent on energy exports, although Putin in his speech on Friday said that the export share of other industries is gradually increased.
Corruption also remains a serious problem despite talks here about the growth of independence and autonomy of legal institutions. Director of the Russian Council on foreign and defense policy Sergei Karaganov raised this issue directly during this week’s talks in Moscow. “I agree with the fact that the institutions are weak”, and that contracts often go to those who “follows the rules of the game,” he said. According to him, the problem is that in 1991 Russia “has declared capitalism without the rule of law”.
However, Karaganov noted, this system has incredible benefits for the Putin administration: “This corruption has the opportunity to rule without using violent force. If you know that many of your people are corrupt, you can force them to obey. But this is not sustainable”.
In fact, this is Putin’s problem. Hard, on the verge of despotism leadership style of Russian President definitely helps him to manage Russia. But he is also letting his desire to make Russia more advanced and prosperous state in both domestic and global market.
After being on stage for almost three hours, Putin never made real criticism of trump. He echoed the statements of trump that the hacking scandal has fanned the supporters of Hillary Clinton to somehow justify her defeat.
Touching made this week trump statements that the United States will come out of the Paris agreement on climate change (Russia supports it), Putin said: “I would not now judge President of the trump.” And one more thing. After today, the two leaders will certainly be treated with caution to questions of Kelly.