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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Amcham: Liberal Policies Sincere, West Should Invest

Sensing a brief window of opportunity to improve the business climate after President Vladimir Putin's inauguration, the American Chamber of Commerce is calling on the U.S. government and Western businesses to reengage Russia despite past disappointments.

Putin's administration is paying lip service to the need for transparency, accountability and responsible business practices, said Scott Blacklin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, at a news conference Thursday.

"It has yet to be reality," Blacklin said. "But these people really understand this. It's not just a pokazukha for the foreigners," he added, using the Russian word for a Potemkin-style show.

Blacklin said he and his colleagues at the chamber had been called in for consultations with Putin economic advisers German Gref and Andrei Illarionov.

In one meeting at the Kremlin, Illarionov "asked, 'What would you like to be done by July?'" Blacklin said. "It was clear he had a deadline in mind where he could cough up some deliverables."

Of Blacklin's laundry list f including a revised Tax Code, an International Accounting Standard requirement for financial institutions, finalization of production sharing agreements and a policy of noninterference in the Internet to preserve its business potential f Illarionov focused on taxes and PSAs.

"He [Illarionov] said, 'I think we are going to see some real progress,'" Blacklin said.

Blacklin said Amcham was encouraging U.S. officials and businesses to take advantage of "unusual productivity by the Duma," a honeymoon period in policy-making and unprecedented openness to foreign input.

Blacklin said Putin's biggest challenge would be the containment of the oligarchy and questioned whether he was up to the task.

"He will succeed or fail on this alone f whether he succeeds in compelling private power to obey Russian law. That is a process, not an event."