Thursday 20 August 2015

Russians getting on with it

We’ve all heard of the Russian oligarchs, these cronies of powerful politicians. It’s part of the Western pejorative view of successful Russians. S-class Mercedes with tinted windows, Italian sports cars, yachts on the Riviera, conspicuous consumption abroad, must be something shady, but we in the West are above all that.

But today I hear from home (Australia) that our own dear Abbott government is now trying to exempt 800 large private companies from publicly reporting their taxable income and the amount of tax they have paid, a privilege not enjoyed by the rest of the business world. Goodness me, could some be more equal than others?

However an interesting conversation with long-term ex-pats here in St Petersburg debunks some myths. Yes, there are some very rich people with connections (show me a country without, see above). But there is also a big number who have worked hard to build businesses and do well – by our own standards. The cafe / restaurant scene reveals a prosperous market, not just tourists, being catered for. Our local bar is packed with 20 or 30-somethings each evening.

Russia is a country with enormous resources and potential. We drove through hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres of rich agricultural land. Our on-board geologists swear by the minerals present, and we know that Russia supplies 30% of Europe’s gas. It’s a country in transition from state-run to more open market enterprise. We saw the signs every day. Uneven service levels and adherence to paper warfare, obvious inefficiencies, but all done with a genuine, unapologetic, open confidence and generosity. They don’t know or care what the world thinks of them. They won the last war and don’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to start another one (quoting yesterday’s guide).

So they’re just getting on with business.


  1. Congratulations on the trip guys. It has been fun as a blog passenger

  2. Gents, your blogs have been circulated to a circle of family and friends and each and ever one has expressed th e enjoyment of receiving and reading your highly informative blogs. Truly a job worth doing. Na starovye.


Thanks for your comment. It's nice to see you sharing our adventures.