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Last week’s shocking detention of one of Russia’s most renowned and publicly visible American entrepreneurs not only caught fellow foreign investors off guard, it may have prompted a moment of national reckoning about how Moscow handles investor relations, say both Kremlin-aligned and international trade groups.
Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey’s arrest Feb. 14 on charges of fraud stemming from a lengthy legal dispute with Russia’s Orient Express Bank sparked widespread speculation about whether the days of unbridled “reiderstvo” — aggressive Kremlin-backed asset raids and corporate takeovers synonymous with Yukos, Russneft, Bashneft, Stolichnaya Vodka and VKontakte — were a thing of the past, or whether, perhaps, Calvey had actually committed a crime.
A recent Moscow court decision to extend Calvey’s detention without trial for a minimum of two months on the grounds that his release poses a flight risk, along with news that he’s been denied consular access in violation of the 1966 Vienna Convention, doesn’t bode well for professionals such as Aleksander Khurudzhi, who has been tasked by the state with rehabilitating Russia’s image as a secure place to invest.
‘This is a shock’
“From my point of view, what happened is in complete contradiction with statements of a Russian president who, from all rostrums, has expressed the same unchanging viewpoint: that Russia is open for investments and that Russia will do its best to attract and safeguard both Russian and foreign investments,” Khurudzhi, deputy ombudsman for the Kremlin office of business ethics, told VOA.
“This is a shock,” he added. “It undermines all the work being conducted by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. All the work that has been done for the last seven to eight years aimed at improving the investment climate. It undermines trust in the system as such … (and our entire) team isn’t sleeping at night. Without any exaggeration, the work is being carried out for 24 hours. This is a challenge for all of us, for our whole team.”
Indeed, during his annual State of the Nation address before Russia’s Federal Assembly on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin, who has been faced with record-low approval ratings, even made a fairly explicit reference to Calvey’s detention.
“To achieve … great (economic) objectives, we must get rid of everything that limits the freedom and initiative of enterprise,” Putin said. “Honest businesses should not live in fear of being prosecuted of criminal or even administrative punishment.”
Putin, who met Calvey multiple times since the American arrived in Russia in the mid-1990s, has said he had no foreknowledge of Calvey’s arrest, and that despite his repeated calls to keep commercial disputes and litigation from culminating in spurious charges against foreign investors, he has no direct influence over how Russian courts render their verdicts.
Vocal Kremlin critics, such as Hermitage Capital co-founder Bill Browder, are deeply skeptical of these claims.
“The arrest of Mike Calvey in Moscow should be the final straw that Russia is an entirely corrupt and (uninvestable) country,” Browder said in a tweet Friday. “Of all the people I knew in Moscow, Mike played by their rules, kept his head down and never criticized the government.”
Browder was denied entry into Russia in 2005 after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, began investigating governmental misconduct and corruption in response to suspicious tax evasion charges brought against Hermitage by Russia’s Interior Ministry.
Magnitsky died under suspicious circumstances in Russian custody in 2009.
Seen as a ploy
For someone like Browder, it would seem Putin’s claim of political impotence in the face of a fully independent judiciary, despite copious historical evidence to the contrary, is nothing more than a cynical public relations ploy meant to portray Russia as a nation of procedural law, while denying justice and consular access to the very foreigners who fastidiously try to abide it.
Even prominent Putin allies, such as Russia’s ex-finance minister Alexei Kudrin, have sounded the alarm, calling Calvey’s arrest an “economic emergency.”
For U.S. citizen Alexis O. Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and a longtime Moscow resident, the initial shock of Calvey’s detention might, however ironically, reveal a longer-term opportunity to recalibrate Russia’s ties with foreign investors.
“Sure, at this point it’s damaging. It certainly makes every one of us who were here thinking about, ‘Well, you know, how far is it from me to his prison cell?’” he told VOA. “But I think it could be a defining issue for the business climate here. It could be the beginning of a bad streak, or it could be the signal for Russia to actually take some positive action.”
Calvey’s formal indictment on Thursday, however, speaks more to the former than the latter outcome.
Rodzianko, who’s convinced the charges against Calvey are without legal merit, said he’s personally convinced the arrest stemmed from “a commercial dispute in the usual sense,” and that “people who set it up were not expecting the resonance that it (has) received.”
Asked if he thought Calvey’s arrest could be in any way politically motivated, he said he was convinced it was not.
“But then I think, in the circumstances, it can’t but be political, just because of the current state of affairs, because of the current state of relations,” Rodzianko said. “It’s just too easy to make that connection, which I don’t think is a proper connection, but I don’t see how it can be avoided.
Two possible outcomes
“I think it’s a symptom of a problem that Russia has, and Russia has to deal with,” he added. “It could (have one of) two outcomes.”
One, he said, is that Calvey’s arrest will come to signify a continuation of a malevolently corrupt practice that Russian and foreign investors have come to “face on an endemic basis.”
Or, “it might actually be a mistake which leads to significant reform, which might improve the situation for both foreigners and Russians investing in Russia,” Rodzianko said.
A spokeswoman for the Moscow district court said that Calvey, who was detained along with other members of the firm on suspicion of stealing $37.5 million (2.5 billion rubles), faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. (VOA)
The pandemic brought about a global boom of entrepreneurship in 2020. Thousands of small businesses launched in the UK last year, and many were very successful. Some businesses started as passion projects, while others aimed to fill a hole in the pandemic market. Services and products, like at-home workouts, popped up all over social media from new and exciting businesses. The pandemic left many Brits financially unstable and scared for the future of their career. Launching their own business gave them something to focus on again and a small amount of income.
The Financial Times reported that the number of registered companies in the UK increased by 30% in 2020. As the world returns to normal, it will be interesting to see how these new businesses approach the post-pandemic world.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
If you have just set up a new business, here are some essential marketing tips to get the ball rolling:
Exploit social media
Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms available. You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. Post consistently and use high-quality imaging to catch your audience's attention. Engage with potential customers by replying to direct messages, comments, shares and likes. Use a few platforms to maximise your exposure and create a strong brand identity.
You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. | Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Network as much as you can
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. Use sites like LinkedIn to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and those in different industries. Reach out to them directly and ask about their company or role. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from one conversation. Once in-person events return, you should look to make the most out of meeting people in your industry. You might find brands to collaborate with or a mentor to learn from. Make sure to hand out your business cards at the event so people can get in touch with you in the future.
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. | Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
Create a blog
You need to be an expert in your industry. Create a blog and share your journey of learning to be a business owner. You can share your expertise and why you started the company, which other entrepreneurs can read and learn from. Your knowledge and experience might be extremely helpful for those just starting out. Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase.
Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase. | Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
One of Indias fast growing Direct To Consumer (DTC) beauty and personal care brands, MyGlamm, launches its national TVC around the message 'All Natural #NoNasties today with actress Shraddha Kapoor, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kapoor who has a great millennial and Gen Z connect introduces 'My SUPERFOODS Kajal' which has No Parabens, No Mineral Oils, No Nasties while still being long-lasting and smudge-free and made with the goodness of nature. This is followed by many girls trying applying the kajal with confidence and while highlighting the ingredients Avocado Oil, Goji Berries, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. Wikimedia Commons
The brand focuses on creating quality products that are high efficacy made with all-natural and no chemicals in the formulae. his campaign follows the #TellMyGlammWhatYouWant campaign where women logged in to tell the company what they wanted from their beauty products. It aims to establish a beauty democracy by giving consumers the power to tell the brand what they want thus changing the entire experience of how women buy beauty products in India.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. We have been innovating to serve those needs with products. When they told us that they want a kajal that is not only long-lasting and smudge-proof but also takes care of their eyes, we knew we had to do this. The campaign is about telling everyone out there who told us they need a kajal that cares, MyGlamm Superfoods Kajal is here for you! The campaign debued on MyGlamm's social channels- YouTube & Instagram on September 16. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, Direct beauty brands, My Glamm national, girls, kajal, confidence ingredients, Avocado Oil, Shraddha Kapoor
Phishing attacks targeting organisations rose up considerably during the pandemic, as millions of employees working from home became a prime target for cybercriminals. A large majority (83 per cent) of IT teams in India said the number of phishing emails targeting their employees increased during 2020, according to a report by UK-based cybersecurity firm Sophos on Monday.
"It can be tempting for organisations to see phishing attacks as a relatively low-level threat, but that underestimates their power. Phishing is often the first step in a complex, multi-stage attack. According to Sophos Rapid Response, attackers frequently use phishing emails to trick users into installing malware or sharing credentials that provide access to the corporate network," Sophos' Principal Research Scientist, Chester Wisniewski said in a statement. The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. For instance, 67 per cent of IT teams in India associate phishing with emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organisation, and which are usually combined with a threat or request for information.
The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. | Pixabay
As many as 61 per cent consider Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to be phishing, and half of the respondents (50 per cent) think threadjacking - when attackers insert themselves into a legitimate email thread as part of an attack - is phishing. Most of the organisations in India (98 per cent) have implemented cybersecurity awareness programmes to combat phishing. Respondents said they use computer-based training programmes (67 per cent), human-led training programmes (60 per cent), and phishing simulations (51 per cent).
Four-fifths of Indian organisations assess the impact of their awareness programme through the number of phishing-related tickets raised with IT, followed by the level of reporting of phishing emails by users (77 per cent) and click rates on phishing emails (60 per cent). All the organisations surveyed (100 per cent) in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata say they have a cybersecurity awareness programme in place. This was followed by Chennai where 97 per cent have such programmes, and then, Bengaluru and Mumbai at 96 per cent each. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: programmes, organisation, emails, phishing