Freeze, but not dead: The WEF is leaving the door open to acting as a bridge-builder between Russia and Ukraine once the conflict is over.
The 800-pound gorilla of the elite global conference ring has been circling Russia for decades: capturing the Kremlin’s attention while cowering at the oligarch’s antics.
The Forum’s founder, Klaus Schwab, prides himself on making his annual meeting in Davos open to all who come, including through a personal relationship with Putin since the early 1990s.
Putin and his predecessor as president, Dmitry Medvedev, spoke at the WEF five times since 2007 until 2021. Putin even invited to speak in January 2015after Russia invaded Crimea, but he declined the invitation.
Introducing Putin to a virtual Davos gathering in January 2021, Schwab calls Putin’s voice “essential” in world affairs, echo a comment from 2009 that he could not think of a problem of global importance that could be solved without Russia’s involvement. The couple last saw each other in mid-2021when Schwab told Putin of “special importance,” he paid close attention to Russian representatives participating in events in Davos.
Schwab, through a spokesman, chose not to comment directly on his relationship with Putin.
But the tides have changed. Not only was it abruptly rejected by Putin, but the WEF is now forced to comply with US, EU and Swiss sanctions on Russia, which not only means cutting ties with banks and public companies. Russia’s oil companies – but also the sensitivity of Belgium-based SWIFT’s international financial transfer system (a six-figure “partner” of the WEF), from which Russian institutions are now blocked. ban.
SWIFT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The bears are dancing
Even before Putin’s presidency, Davos was always present in the minds of Russian elites. The invitation to the WEF is the ultimate mark of global legitimacy for post-Soviet business leaders – and an opportunity for them to turn the weight and the euro.
The stardom of Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Russian Communist Party, at the 1996 annual meeting of the WEF, spurred Russian business leaders including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Boris Berezovsky to form “Treaty of Davos” – a plan to finance Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign, then vote in single digits, to prevent the Communists from returning to power.
During the 90s, Russians bid farewell to Davos, and the Russian delegation flew up. By the time Putin and Medvedev started speaking on stage, it was common to see dozens of billionaires or more in Davos.
Whether they will be missed is an open question, but the absence of the Russian from Europe’s highest town is sure to be noticed.
The oligarchic parties in Davos are legendary and infamous.
In 2008, Figure Skating Olympic Champion Performs Under Fireworks. In 2016, mining magnate Oleg Deripaska imported costumed Cossack dancers to perform for his guests, as flight attendant-wearing models toured a chalet with bowls of caviar giant black: is fed to guests with a spoon, then vodka.
Guests at Deripaska’s parties range from American CEOs to members of the British House of Commons. Crowds of young women without Davos certification badges – the town’s popular status system at WEF meetings – mingled among the crowd, claiming to be interpreters.
In 2018, Deripaska’s partying drew the ire of locals, and his parties moved from residential areas and into public venues. He replied by held a concert by Enrique Iglesias.
Amidst the late-night parties, the focal point for Russian activities is Russian House – an initiative of the Roscongress Foundation – has occupied a prominent place on the Davos Pedestrian Street.
Over 2,000 participants from 85 countries participated in events at the venue in 2020, including billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio and a disgraced former Assistant Secretary-General of the United NationsFabrizio Hochschild.
First Covid, then Kyiv
This has been a bad year for the WEF, with the pandemic forcing the organization into a time of crisis.
WEF has relied on its Strategic Partners, Pay up to $640,000 to join the Forum’s elite partner tier. That group, which includes several Russian banks, has helped account for about 70 percent of the $340 million budget in 2021. But doesn’t have the ability to charge fees to host in-person events, such as annual meetings. in Davos, blow a $45 million loss in its budget.
With Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Switzerland-based Forum will need an even bigger check: The Forum has completely removed links with Russian stakeholders.
At least six regular Davos bodies are now subject to individual or institutional sanctions from Western governments.
Herman Gref – the chief executive officer of Sberbank, which was sanctioned by the US, UK and Canada – is no longer listed as member of the governing board of WEF.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, sits on the WEF’s board and leads the effort to remove Russian banks from SWIFT. A spokesperson for Freeland told POLITICO: “Canada will continue to work closely with our partners to punish President Putin and those who hang him for their unprovoked and barbaric act of aggression. for Ukraine,” adding “we encourage international organizations to do everything they can to support these efforts. ”
Effective strategic partnerships with Russian banks such as Sberbank, which first became a WEF partner in 2008 and was a founding partner of the World Economic Forum’s Center for Security network, in custody, WEF confirmed.
Neither USM nor LUKOIL responded to POLITICO’s request for comment.
According to an internal document obtained by POLITICO, sanctioned Russian CEOs registered to attend the 2022 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos – and those who will now be banned – include Kirill Dmitriev (Russian Direct Investment Fund), Sergei Ivanov (Former Putin’s chief of staff, now in Alrosa), and Alexei Yakovitsky (from was sanctioned bank VTB Capital). Other CEOs who will also be absent include Alexander Dyukov (Gazprom Neft), Ivan Streshinsky (USM investment), Aleksandr Sheosystemv (PAO Severstal) and Grigory Fedorishin (Novolipetsk Steel-NLMK).
Leonid Mikhelson, founder and chairman of natural gas producer Novatek and Russia’s richest man in 2016, will also attend. Mikhelson has so far evaded sanctions but lost more than 10 billion dollars in the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rustam Minnikhanov, president of Russia’s Tatarstan region, is the highest-ranking political figure with RSVP’d.
A Moscow branch of the WEF’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, debuted to fanfare October 2021, recently disappeared from the WEF website. Organized by ANO . Digital Economythe center focuses on emerging technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, and operates under an agreement Negotiate with the Kremlin and signed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Russia was also reviewed. Council has co-chair Maxim OreshkinRussia’s former minister of economic development, now an adviser to Putin, and Igor Shuvalov, a former Russian cabinet member who is now the chairman of VEB.RF, the country’s financial development organization, and the theme of both British sanctions and American sanctions.
Moral versus ruble
This is not the first time the WEF has faced difficulties in relations with Russia.
When Congress authorized broad sanctions against Russia, in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US election and annexation of Crimea, the WEF sought to limit the access of financiers. for their 2019 Davos conference. Under pressure from the Kremlinthat access was restored during the WEF winter meeting.
The thank you Schwab received: an absence of Putin.
Andrey Kostin, President and President of VTB Bank, and one of the oligarchs was sanctioned whom the WEF initially shunned, closed the gathering to “Missing a meaningful discussion and conspicuous absentee list.”
This time, the legal and ethical pressures on the WEF have become too great. Post-Soviet Russia and the World Economic Forum Rise Together: Each aspires to be seen as a great power.
At first, the deal was relatively simple: Putin endorsed the WEF, the financiers financed it, and the Forum, in turn, helped wash their reputations. Call it multi-stakeholderism, call it transactional, call it the ugly truth of globalization. Like Klaus Schwab and Vladimir Putin, that is the future. Now their only hope is peace.
Schwab and WEF President Børge Brende said in a February 27 statement that they “deeply condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, its attacks and atrocities. Our complete solidarity is with the Ukrainian people and all those who are innocently suffering from this completely unacceptable war.”
The couple further promised to support all diplomatic efforts related to ending the war, and expressed hope that “reason will prevail and space for bridge-building and reconciliation once and for all.” appear again”.
Andy Blatchford contributed to this report.
https://www.politico.com/news/2022/03/08/davos-putin-russian-oligarchs-00015344?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Davos freezes Putin and Russian oligarchs