BP’s Russian Adventure

I haven’t written about British Petroleum’s current and future experiences in Russia, mostly because – it’s so sad, and so predictable.  Perhaps it’s also because I happen to be a shareholder, which means it bothers me on a personal level, and because I’m so fed up with the Putin/Stalin thread and Putin’s obvious puppet.

And, perhaps for a minute or two, I thought there really was a chance that Medvedev would act as though he came from, or were hoping now to create, a 20th century country, with 20th century business practices.  It’s never too late, right?

What better way to win a business negotiation than to cancel the CEO’s visa – and that of almost all his key engineering staff?  Or intimidate the CFO until he quits, which happened yesterday?

This goes on, of course, even as Medvedev gives public speeches showing he isn’t really Putin’s Poodle, by appearing to criticize The Boss in public over the importance of property and shareholder rights, and business practices, etc. etc. etc.


I was going to write a bit about how the Russians would win this argument, using the same fake tax/eco permit/government pressure tactics Shell and others experienced in being squeezed out of their investment positions, but I held off.

That was stupid.

Given the experience that these powerful western companies have had in Russia, why would anyone, underline Anyone, invest there today?  No free speech.  No democracy.  No real parliament.  No rule of law.  A general attitude of thuggery, violence and assassination as common business tactics.  I mean, really, who is dumb enough to say to him or herself, ah, that only happened to those other guys, that could never happen to me?

Even for the most philistine-like business czars, Putin/Stalin’s Russia takes the breath – and the money – away.

Does Russia now end up being the not-secret hub of a new, KGB/FSB global kleptocracy?  Is this a bad 1960s James Bond movie?

With the assassination of Litvinenko by a charged KGB operative who then gets immunity by running for – and achieving – a parliament seat, nothing is too far-fetched, and indeed, the movies seem tame compared to killing with transuranium elements and assassinating critics in cold blood as a little present on Putin’s birthday.

I have noticed McCain raising a little Hell about all this, but why isn’t the world at large taking on the Bear?  Is Europe so cowed over future gas and oil supplies that she dare not peep?  We have a monster rapidly taking shape on the global horizon, and it’s past time for the rest of the world to speak up.

Or, as Robert Mugabe would say, Don’t bother.