| 4 December 2023, Monday |

Head of Russia’s crime agency suggests nationalising key parts of economy

To assist Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the head of Russia’s federal crime agency recommended on Saturday that important areas of the economy be returned to state hands.

Moscow has already taken or purchased assets from certain Western corporations that have left Russia or reduced their operations since the invasion.

“We are essentially talking about economic security in a war,” Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, told a conference that was streamed online. “Let’s go along the path of nationalising the main sectors of our economy.”

It was an unusual foray into economic policy for Bastrykin, who reports directly to President Vladimir Putin.

Russia conducted wide-ranging and often chaotic privatisations in the 1990s, after the collapse of the communist Soviet Union.

Some of the state’s most valuable assets ended up in the hands of so-called oligarchs, many of whom subsequently sold their firms or were forced to cede control back to the state under Putin.

Russia’s economy and government coffers rely heavily on production of oil, gas and metals.

Gazprom, Russia’s largest natural gas producer, is already controlled by the state. Its largest oil company, Rosneft, is not formally under government control but is headed by Igor Sechin, a long-standing ally of Putin.

Moscow does not call its intervention in Ukraine an invasion, and says it had to act to defend Ukraine’s Russian-speakers and avert a threat from NATO – arguments dismissed by Kyiv and the West as baseless pretexts for a war of conquest.

  • Reuters