Putin remains key to Russian returns, says East Capital’s Abromavicius
Russians are expected to vote for their next president on 4 March. However, there is continued uncertainty sparked by the results of the country’s discredited Parliamentary elections that took place last year, and which may yet result in expected winner Vladimir Putin adjusting his policies.
There is a lot of focus on elections, agrees Aivaras Abromavicius (pictured), partner in East Capital, and long time investor in eastern Europe including Russia.
The market has continued to rally since the start of the year, with confidence returning in the wake of the largely peaceful demonstrations against the last Parliamentary elections. Putin’s United Russia party won that election, but with a far lower level of support than forecast.
More demonstrations are expected for early February, Abromavicius said. However, polls as of January continued to suggest support for Putin was rising slightly, and he remained clearly more popular than all the other declared candidates thus far.
The issue of Presidential elections is different enough from the Parliamentary elections that it is unlikely to result in a similar spread of votes, Abromavicius added.
Therefore, the most likely scenario facing investors is for Putin to win.
“The question then is whether he will reinvent himself,” Abromavicius said.
“For example, will he start seriously fighting corruption? So far there have been few signs of this in the form of investigating family ties of those in charge of some of the country’s biggest companies, or of investigating procurement practices.”
What is known, he adds, is that Putin tends to tread a firm path once he makes his mind up about policy.
From the investor point of view there is another issue; the country is still very dependent on commodity prices, although diversification is ongoing.