Dimity Medvedev’s Davos charm offensive was cut short by the suicide bombing at Domodedova airport. He could not afford to be seen mingling with “Davos Men” as victims of the tragedy lay dying. Vladimir Putin learned this PR lesson when he continued his vacation as the Kursk submarine sailors suffocated under water. Medvedev returned today to Davos, his agenda reduced to two events: meeting with world business leaders and delivering a keynote address. In both events, he will deliver the same message: Russia is open for business. His listeners will be told that state companies are being spruced up for sale. Only a few will remain off limit to foreigners. Goldman Sachs has been gearing up, beefing up its presence in Moscow. Goldman and other venerable investment houses will lend an air of credibility to the undertaking.
There is no mystery why Russia is again open to foreign investment. The state budget receives half its revenues from oil and gas, whose prices are no longer soaring and whose outputs are stagnant. The Russian economy has been in a funk for a few years, and tax revenues are down. The vaunted rainy-day fund from the halcyon days of the energy boom is almost exhausted. In a word, the Russian state badly needs money.