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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Business Board Meets

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will host the first meeting of his newly created business advisory board Wednesday, but few on the board seem to know how they were chosen or what they will do.

The final list of the 24 members in the new roundtable, dubbed the Council of Enterprises, underwent some serious changes from the original list put together by Kasyanov’s advisers: Former oligarchs and well-known representatives of primary industries didn’t make the cut, while a wide array of people from different branches of the economy did. The chosen few come from such varied industries as information technologies, textile production, carpet weaving and finance.

While many on the list expressed surprise at being included, few were in doubt about their ability to contribute to the goal of the council: a better understanding between private enterprises and the state about each other’s wants and needs.

"From my experience of dealing with state officials, I can say that sometimes they have a rather poor idea of what is really going on in business," said future council member Anatoly Karachinsky, president of Informational Business Systems. "[State officials] are familiar with the problems of fundamental industries like gas and oil production, but as to what is needed for the other sectors of the economy, sometimes they simply can’t understand."

Karachinsky said that he sees positive changes happening in the way the state deals with the problems of private enterprises and views the council "as a means of communication" that would be helpful. He said he had no intention of using his position on the council to further his company’s interests — a position held by fellow future council member Viktor Shatalov.

"Representatives of different sectors who will work on the council will help the government understand their problems," said Shatalov, who runs one of the oldest enterprises represented on the council, the Oka Textile Factory, which was founded in the Moscow region town of Oziory in 1835.

Shatalov said that he only learned about his appointment to the council from a fax he received last Thursday. He said he has no idea who proposed his candidacy, but said it probably had to do with Oka’s success.

"We have worked profitably for the last several years, and more than 50 percent of our products are being exported," he said. "I am prepared to speak about the problems of our industry, but at present I have no idea how the council will work."

In contrast to the low-profile Shatalov, Dmitry Zimin is one of the most well-known members of the new council. The appointment of Zimin makes sense as his company, Vimpelcom, was the first Russian firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Whether the council will prove to be an efficiently working instrument will be seen after its first organizational meeting," he said. "At present, it is hard for me to say what specifically it will be doing."

Another member, Troika-Dialog’s Oleg Vyugin, said he hoped the new roundtable will not turn into simply a place for members to lobby the state for favors.

"If, after its first [few] meetings, the council doesn’t turn into a club of lobbyists … but will look into the wider problems of all businesses, then it can become a really efficient instrument," Vyugin said.

Vyugin said he thinks that one of the most pressing issues on the council’s agenda should be the ongoing tax reforms. "The discussion in the council can show the government whether or not its tax policy is correct, or [whether or] not it is radical enough to legalize the enormous sums of money that are now in underground circulation."