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Russia: Medvedev pushes for a big clean-up

Russia’s president is distancing himself from the financial corruption of the past few years and pushing through legislation to curb insider trading. Russia’s rehabilitation with outside investors should do wonders for the country’s cost of capital. Elliot Wilson reports.

RUSSIA’S GOVERNMENT SEEMS intent on cleaning up the country’s notoriously investor-unfriendly financial system. Global investors hope that the country is ready to usher in a cleaner and more transparent era as the worst effects of the global financial crisis fade. Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, a pragmatic technocrat who is devoid of the worst of premier Vladimir Putin’s sabre-rattling paranoia, is starting to impose his own authority over power brokers in the Kremlin, the army and the government.

Legislation is wending its way through parliament designed to draw a line under the worst excesses of insider trading. On April 17 two-thirds of the state duma adopted a draft bill called On counteracting the abuse of insider information and market manipulation. The bill, in preparation for nearly a decade, would be the first legislation directly to address rampant insider trading in Russia. A second bill, introduced in May 2009, amends the criminal code, making it possible to sentence those abusing inside information to up to seven years’ imprisonment.

Medvedev’s anti-corruption push is seen as a further sign of his new-found power and assertiveness.

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