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BREXIT – a battle of hearts and minds?

My interest in Brexit

Soon, Britons will be called on to vote on a question that, one way or another, could set the direction for the country’s economic, social and political future.  It is no surprise, therefore, that the question is one that is arousing a lot of fiery and emotional debate in the media and other public forums.  And as if the issue were not emotive enough as it is, Putin has recently been brought into it, with speculation about the possible role of Russia in stirring up discord and encouraging support for Brexit.

I will give my views on both of these issues.  But for now, just to say Read more

A Perilous Precedent

‘A precedent embalms a principle’ – Benjamin Disraeli

In the coming week, my native city of St Petersburg will host an international economic forum, the main purpose of which will be the promotion of Russia as an attractive prospect for outside investment.

SPIEF will be held in the new convention centre ‘Expoforum’ whilst this year’s delegates will be feverishly looking to get reservations at the top hotels. GHE, Four Seasons and W are hosting some of the most important sessions. Once again, the most prominent venue will be the Four Seasons Lions Palace hotel, located in the renovated palace of Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky. Next week this extraordinary hotel will be the essential focal point for some of most recognized Forbes and Fortune faces of the forum.

When Lion Palace opened it was a Read more

Magnets for Growth

“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)

Crony capitalism is the subject of considerable and often misguided debate. It is an economic system where those who are inappropriately close to government officials are given unfair advantages, commonly in the form of financial incentives. As a person with a regulated European fund and yet on the receiving end of baseless allegations of crony capitalism, this is a topic I follow closely.

I am a frequent reader of The Economist, a publication which prides itself on its quality of research, but  I was very surprised by an article that I recently read which featured an updated ‘crony capitalism index’.  Read more

The Power of Alumni Networks – Building Bridges Between the University, Its Graduates, and the World

Those of us who have graduated from some of the Western world’s most prestigious universities will no doubt be intimately acquainted with the concept of the alumni association. Fundamentally driven by the goodwill and voluntary support of graduates, an alumni association can be instrumental in supporting the university’s long-term strategic ambitions. It should be a sprawling, multigenerational, international family Read more

36.6°C – The ideal temperature for investment in Russia

We have heard mixed accounts of Russian businesses lately, and against this backdrop I was pleased to note some positive developments in the Russian pharmaceuticals industry.

According to a report from RBC, the US firm Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), the world’s largest network of pharmacies, has acquired a 15 per cent stake in the Russian pharmacy chain 36,6. This forms part of a wider deal, which also includes the acquisition by 36,6 of WBA’s distribution arm ‘Alliance Healthcare Russia’ Read more

Lessons from Space – Poyekhali! (Let’s go!)

“Чтобы стать крылатым, нужно стремление к полету” – Юрий Гагарин

“In order to grow wings, you must first have the desire to fly” – Yuri Gagarin


Russia has always been a leader in the space industry. Below, I highlight just some of Russia’s major successes in the field, which I believe have had a lasting impact on the sector as a whole. Read more

Digging for long-term growth

‘Для того чтобы коровы меньше ели и больше давали молока, их надо меньше кормить и больше доить’ – Музыкант и актер Николай Фоменко


‘To make cows eat less and give more milk, you should feed them less and milk them more’ – Joke by Russian musician and comic actor Nikolai Fomenko


While the Russian economy is struggling, the agricultural sector is doing better than most. Here, I wish to suggest that – aside from filling us with optimism, as we look to plant this year’s crops – current developments in agriculture could see Russia reaping economic rewards for years come. Read more

Russian universities: among the best in Europe

Following February’s highly successful first Reunion at St Petersburg State University (SPbSU), my alma mater where I am President of the Alumni Association, there has been more positive news relating to higher education in Russia. Five Russian institutions now feature among Europe’s top 200 according to the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. Read more

London and Moscow share their masterpieces

The news that London’s National Portrait Gallery (‘NPG’) and Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery will exchange a range of masterpieces this year suggests to me that the underlying channels of cooperation which exist between these two nations of art lovers are still as important as ever. Read more

Davos: turning point for the Russian economy?

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same

person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

 Haruki Murakami in Kafka on the Shore 


The atmosphere at this year’s World Economic Forum, held in the Swiss resort of Davos earlier this year, was unusually gloomy with the focus on the economic slowdown in China, negative developments in the Middle East and the economic situation in Russia. Read more