Davos losing significance for Russia, but still useful for Tatarstan

Rustam Minnikhanov played hockey in the ‘’world team’’ under the guidance of coaches Mike Keenan and Doug Brown

Davos losing significance for Russia, but still useful for Tatarstan Photo: vk.com/rnm

The World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, since 1971, is losing its importance globally and for Russia in particular, experts believe. At the same time, annual meetings with representatives of business and political leaders can be useful for Tatarstan. This year, Rustam Minnikhanov has attended the forum for the tenth time. Traditionally, he takes advantage of it to negotiate and to seek strategic investors for the Tatarstan economy.

Jubilee Davos of Minnikhanov: business breakfasts, hockey and pokemon catching

The opened on Tuesday, January 17, Davos-2017 has been the tenth for Tatarstan leader Rustam Minnikhanov. The president of Tatarstan arrived at the forum as part of the Russian delegation headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. Traditionally he was accompanied by small Tatarstan delegation, which included at least the head of Tatneft Nail Maganov, the head of IT-Park of Kazan Anton Grachev. The Tatartsan president took part in the opening ceremony of WEF and Crystal Award Ceremony. On January 17, the leader of Tatarstan attended the session ''Strategic renewal: The future of the digital economy'', where the plan was to raise the issue of the drivers contributing to the transformation of the digital economy.

The schedule of Minnikhanov at WEF on 18 January was diversified by a business breakfast VTB Capital. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets, CEO of Glencore Ivan Glasenberg, as well as the chairperson of Vnesheconombank Sergey Gorkov and Nail Maganov. It is reported that the participants of the business breakfast discussed the most important macroeconomic and financial issues and analyzed the current economic and structural changes. Minnikhanov also attended the session ''Europe: promoting integration and competitiveness'', which was attended by government representatives of EU countries (Spain, Sweden, Italy), top managers of banks, etc. The director of IT-Park Anton Grachev was the only representative of Russia out of 50 shapers.

The schedule of Minnikhanov at WEF on 18 January was diversified by a business breakfast VTB Capital. Photo: finparty.ru

That night, Minnikhanov posted a picture on Instagram from the ice arena. The photo, judging by the comments, was taken right after a hockey game with participants of WEF. Besides, among the entertainments at the forum there were pokemons. However, the head of Tatarstan, who is fond of gadgets, had a working mood.

The group of businessmen from several countries went on ice at the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Mike Keenan, the last coach, who again led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994, and Doug Brown who won the Stanley Cup two times in a row in the late 1990s with the Detroit Red Wings, were their coaches.

Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan from Russia, was also there.

Scotty MacPherson, who organized the annual match together with a philanthropist John McCall Macbaine said it was a chance to ''have fun, gather people, talk about non-political things… United nation of hockey diplomacy.''

By the way, the red team — Canada — drew the match with the white team — Canada — 10:10.''

The forum of the ''globalists'' in other game

Despite the fact that this year the delegation from Russia has been more numerous than in 2016, when the forum was ignored by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and even the First Vice Premiers, experts say that the significance of Davos for Russia is reducing.

''The forum has changed dramatically in recent years, for 5-10 years we have been in the conditions of the globalized world, but now many countries are trying to dissociate themselves and they are elaborating their own agenda,'' says Natalia Orlova, the head of the center for macroeconomic analysis of Alfa-Bank. ''It is clear that in recent years the importance of factors not economic, but more social and political has increased. 10 years ago at the forum they discussed economic achievements, the extent of growth of the financial markets, but now quite a lot of attention is paid to the topics that are difficult to digitize, things like social tension, and topics that are heavily influenced by policy and political decisions.''

Natalia Orlova: ''The forum has changed dramatically in recent years, for 5-10 years we have been in the conditions of the globalized world, but now many countries are trying to dissociate themselves and they are elaborating their own agenda.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The head of the Russian International Institute of political expertise Yevgeny Minchenko in the conversation with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya also highlighted a decline in importance of Davos and called WEF ''a playground of the globalists''. ''The team of Trump ignored the forum, saying that they have nothing to do there. It's a platform of the globalists. But Russia is now playing a different game, what is more, the United States are now playing a different game. Those elite groups who played the globalist game now do not have a great influence,'' said Minchenko.

Nevertheless, according to Mikhail Khazin, Davos can be useful for Tatarstan as a platform to seek investors. ''As for Minnikhanov, he is more narrowly focused, roughly speaking, he has a couple of projects for which he wants to find a particular investor. And in this deal he can succeed.'' Theoretically, he could meet investors, well, not for 3-4 days, but during 2-3 months in different places. Davos in this respect a little more convenient place because they are all here, this is the only meaning that this event has,'' said Khazin.

Davos experience of Tatarstan

In fact, Rustam Minnikhanov has always taken advantage of Davos. For the first time Rustam Minnikhanov attended the World Economic Forum in 2007 as Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan. The debut was not only for the president but also for the region as a whole. It was this year when Tatarstan for the first time officially was represented in the framework of WEF. The theme of the forum was ''Oil and global warming''. The Russian delegation was represented by First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (in a year he became the president of Russia). Rustam Minnikhanov did not have a chance to speak on his debut.

Nevertheless, the forum in Davos played for the benefit of the image of Tatarstan. In 2008, in January, not being a part of the Russian delegation, Minnikhanov arranged the arrival of the founder and permanent leader of WEF Klaus Schwab to Kazan. The composition of the Russian delegation at Davos 2009, which was headed at that time by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, did include Rustam Minnikhanov. In 2010, Rustam Minnikhanov was at the forum for two days already as the head of the powerful local group from Tatarstan in the Russian delegation. However, some members of the delegation (at least Sergey Kogogin) previously participated in Davos, however, in the view of the media fell for the first time in 2010. The press service of the Cabinet of Ministers kept in secret the details of the activities of the Tatarstan delegation in the centre of the world economy. Later it became known only that Minnikhanov held negotiations with Daimler AG and the Export-import Bank of China.

Davos 2011 became for Minnikhanov-president as the first where he worked from the beginning to the end and one of the busiest for the Tatarstan delegation. During three days at the forum, Minnikhanov took part in the opening ceremony, the session of the forum ''To a new world reality through collaboration and cooperation'', in discussion of the Vision for the G20, a traditional working breakfast on behalf of the Chairman of Board of the Sberbank of the Russian Federation German Gref. However, the main thing was that, perhaps, at Davos 2011, Rustam Minnikhanov, earned a reputation as the main fundraiser of the Republic.

Last year, the forum was attended by representatives of the Republic. Photo: Moritz Hager (wef.dc2.orphea.com)

The programme of Davos-2012 for Rustam Minnikhanov was largely similar in the scheme to one of the previous year. From formal events, he attended the section ''Prospects of Russia'', a working breakfast on behalf of Barclays Capital, a traditional working lunch of Sberbank from German Gref. In 2013, to the Swiss resort, which became the center of the world economy, Rustam Minnikhanov went without the traditional large delegation of Tatarstan. New point in the programme of work of the president of Tatarstan was the search for partners for the SEZ Alabuga.

In 2014, Rustam Minnikhanov, first came to Davos forum not as an ordinary participant of the discussions at the working sessions but as a speaker. At the session ''Russia's Regions: drivers of growth'' he presented the experience of Tatarstan as one of the most developed subjects of the Russian Federation. Besides, his official program was probably the most intense over all the years of his work at the forum. The president of Tatarstan took part in the sessions ''Prospects of Russia'', ''Eurasia: a new frontier?'', ''BRICS in midlife crisis?''. Davos 2015 was held in difficult conditions for Russia when the political issues overshadowed the economy. Nevertheless, Rustam Minnikhanov brought to Switzerland a large delegation from Tatarstan and the program was intense. Last year, the forum was attended by representatives of the Republic, although in terms of the cooling relations of Russia with Swiss ''coterie'', Minnikhanov did not show much activity at the forum.

By Damira Khairulina, Aigul Ziyatdinova