In Russia, criticism of Kremlin chief Putin and his war is life-threatening. Nevertheless, oligarch Deripaska warns quite bluntly that the repressive Moscow state apparatus is losing the trust of investors.
Russian businessman and billionaire Oleg Deripaska has criticized the country's leadership for its economic policies in unusually strong terms. "I'm very worried all the time that the state and business are constantly working against each other," said the founder of the aluminum company Rusal at an economic conference in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. The state puts "two public prosecutors and four inspectors" on every entrepreneur.
In view of the western sanctions as a result of the Ukraine war, Russia must ensure that it attracts investors from friendly countries, Deripaska demanded. "We will need foreign investors." However, the government's move towards a war economy is hurting the business climate. "The rule of law and predictability are very important," he said, according to the state news agency Interfax. "If we change the rules of the game every year or every quarter, no one will have confidence - neither Russian nor foreign entrepreneurs."
Deripaska, 55, is one of the country's top entrepreneurs, traditionally referred to as oligarchs, but who have declined in influence since Russia's attack on Ukraine last year. In return, representatives of the security apparatus, the so-called siloviki, have expanded their positions of power. Like other entrepreneurs and politicians, Western sanctions were imposed on Deripaska.
Last June, Deripaska was unusually open in criticizing the attack on Ukraine as a "huge mistake". He literally said at a press conference in Moscow: "Is it in Russia's interest to destroy Ukraine? Of course not, that would be a colossal mistake." Contrary to what is officially permitted, he did not speak of a "special operation" but of a war.
However, given the numerous assassination attempts on Russian oligarchs and critics of President Vladimir Putin, Deripaska lives dangerously with his statements. Oligarchs such as ex-banker Oleg Tinkov, who has also taken a clear stance against the Ukraine war, have spoken publicly about their fears of falling victim to Putin's revenge.
The Russian central bank expects gross domestic product (GDP) to develop in a corridor between one percent growth and one percent decline for the current year. The rating agency Moody's, on the other hand, expects a decline of three percent. According to preliminary data, the Russian economy shrank by 2.1 percent last year.