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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Harvard Forum to Talk Russia

In past years, it has given the stage to billionaire financier George Soros -- who described Anatoly Chubais as "tainted."

It also once hosted a satellite linkup with then-U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Lawrence Summers -- who said that aid to Russia ended up in "Swiss bank accounts."

Never one to shy away from controversy, the Russian Investment Symposium opens Thursday in Boston, where hundreds of Russian and U.S. government and business leaders are to hobnob and discuss how far Russia's boom can go.

"We're giving everyone the opportunity to simply just talk to each other, as well as present projects to a high-powered audience," said Irina Zonova, a division head at the Institute of Direct Investments Fund, which is coordinating the Russian side of the fifth annual event.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref are to open the conference, which is sponsored by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs within the John F. Kennedy school of government at Harvard University.

The three-day conference is slated to cover banking-sector reforms, opportunities for investment in the consumer market and the state of corporate governance in Russia.

The list of speakers resembles a Who's Who of Russian business -- including the likes of Jean Lemierre, president of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, David Yakobashvili, board chairman of Wimm-Bill-Dann, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, CEO of Yukos, and Alexander Knaster, CEO of Alfa Bank.

With few countries currently posting growth as rapid as Russia's -- gross domestic product is estimated to increase by 5.5 percent this year compared with the United States' predicted negative growth rate -- foreign and domestic investors are bringing their capital back onshore.

The stock market is up nearly 40 percent since January, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped more than 14 percent over the same period.

The three-day investment symposium opens on the heels of Moscow's World Economic Forum, which ended Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin gave the investment symposium an optimistic start at the World Economic Forum when he said he wanted "both Russian and foreign investors to feel at home in Russia."

Zonova said she expected 400 to 500 participants to attend this year's symposium and no speakers had canceled in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

"The dialogue between both countries will continue," Zonova said.

"The people in power continuously change, so this symposium never gets old."