Minnikhanov’s eleventh Davos: gender equality, meetings with Rockefeller and 2018 WC on WEF agenda

Minnikhanov’s eleventh Davos: gender equality, meetings with Rockefeller and 2018 WC on WEF agenda Photo: weforum.org

Yesterday Rustam Minnikhanov went to the World Economic Forum to Davos together with a Russian delegation. For Minnikhanov, it's the 11 th trip to the Swiss resort where the world political and economic elite gathers. In addition, the Tatarstan president established good business relations with WEF President Klaus Schwab. Schwab came to Kazan in 2008 and frequently met with Minnikhanov in other places. Realnoe Vremya tells the difference of this forum from the previous one, how the congress of the global elite helps to promote Tatarstan's interests.

Leaders of countries and leftist radicals wait for Trump

The 2018 Davos Forum will be from 23 to 26 January. 70 leaders of countries and governments are expected to come, while the total number of participants will amount to 3,000 people. Prime Minister of Great Britain Teresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will be here. But Donald Trump, undoubtedly, is the most expected participant who will visit the forum for the first time as US president. In addition, he will be accompanied by a bid delegation. But there is an option now that the American president won't be able to come due to the budget crisis that erupted in the country.

The WEF agenda, as usual, reflects the agenda of the global mass media and the content of the speeches that were delivered from rostrums last year. There was room for both the notorious topic of sexual harassment and the problem of refugees, but the discussion of the current state and prospects of the world economy are certainly expected within social and humanitarian issues. As usual, the Davos Forum causes criticism of leftist radicals who accuse the event's participants of hypocrisy, and this time they promised to dedicate several headline-making protest campaigns to the upcoming forum.

Associate Professor of the Institute of Management, Economy and Finance of the Kazan Federal University Lyaysan Arsentyeva who can become the only Russian shaper at the world economic forum will be among the guests of the forum

The main topic of the forum will be Shared Future in a Fractured World. According to Vedomosti, one of the peculiarities of the forum will be the fact that seven women will be co-chairwomen of the forum and represent different spheres – private and public sector, international organisations, trade unions, scientific circles, civil community and social entrepreneurship. Curiously, it was supposed that Associate Professor of the Institute of Management, Economy and Finance of the Kazan Federal University Lyaysan Arsentyeva who can become the only Russian shaper at the world economic forum would be among the guests of the forum.

The issue of world inequality is among other topics that were announced at the forum. For instance, Oxfam International published a report on the eve of the 2018 WEF's beginning that says that a record number of billionaires appeared in 2017. Now they total 2,043 people, and a new billionaire appeared every 2 days in 2017. The equity of the leading 500 billionaires grew by 24% to $5,38 trillion in 2017, while the richest person of the planet, owner of Amazon.com Jeff Bezos earned $33,7 billion. ''The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,'' claims Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. In the end, Oxfam urges governments to limit returns to shareholders and top executives and ensure all workers receive a minimum 'living' wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life, raise the tax on wealth.

Nikolay Nikiforov will be among ministers representing Russia

The circulating news that Vladimir Putin isn't going to Davos isn't news, in fact. President Putin has never visited the forum. The only time when he participated in the work of the WEF was in 2009 as prime minister of Russia. Then he got the role as the person who opens the forum, and Putin's speech was mainly a reply to the economic crisis. Dmitry Medvedev has been to the WEF three times but only once as president – in 2011. Nevertheless, experts note a reduction of Russia's participation due to the complicated international state of affairs.

''Davos is still the major platform for the global economy. Russia is losing attractiveness due to the sanctions, and it's the main factor of the reduction of our country's presence at the WEF. Reserves are running out, Russia will switch to borrowings soon, and it has to establish links at the level of specific companies and even regions,'' Ilya Graschenkov, political expert and director general of the Regional Politics Centre, told Realnoe Vremya.

Dmitry Medvedev has been to the WEF three times but only once as president – in 2011

''International interest in the forum in Davos remains. For instance, PRC Chairman Xi Jinping visited the event in 2017 – the level of the representative office of this country at the WEF was so high. The World Economic Forum still remains a famous global platform for self-presentation and negotiations. However, we shouldn't overestimate its meaning. The same tasks can be accomplished in other formats too. We will also note that Vladimir Putin's style is not to try ''open all doors'' at the same time but make only well thought out steps that promise the utmost result. As prime minister, Putin was at the 2009 WEF when such participation yielded the highest ''fruits of prestige'' and information effect (he opened the forum, at that moment, his speech was called an application to strengthen Russia's role in the world). Now considering more frequent information attacks on Russia, the current participation format in the WEF is logical for Moscow,'' thinks Mikhail Neyzhmakov, leading analyst in the Agency for Political and Economic Communications.

This year Vice-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich will chair the Russian delegation. The government will be represented by ministers – Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov, Minister of Economic Development Maksim Oreshkin and Minister of Energy Aleksandr Novak. Chairwoman of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina was also supposed to come, but her visit was cancelled at the last moment.

It's expected that Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Basic Element Oleg Deripaska, Board Chairman of Novatek Leonid Mikhelson, President of LUKOIL Vagit Alekperov, President of Alrosa Sergey Ivanov and entrepreneur and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov also will go Switzerland.

The discussion of the digital economy, power engineering, opportunities that the Football WC will give to the country, relations with the USA and charity is scheduled in the business programme of the Russian House. The discussion of Ekaterinburg's application to host the 2025 Expo is also expected.

It's interesting that chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Valerie Rockefeller, President of MasterCard Shamina Singh, directors of Russian and foreign companies and funds as well as representatives of power and expert community will take part in the discussion dedicated to socially important tasks in modern conditions in the Russian House.

This year Vice-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich will chair the Russian delegation. Photo: kremlin.ru

Tatarstan and Davos: tour to history of relations

The Tatarstan president went to the forum of the global elite right after participating in the Gaidar Forum where he supported the rights of regions in the distribution of power with the federal centre again. Native of Tatarstan, head of the federal Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov will be with him in Davos. Tina Kandelaki who frequently propagated achievements of the republic will also be in the Russian delegation.

Realnoe Vremya already analysed Minnikhanov's job in Davos from 2007 when he was the prime minister. In general, we can say the president uses the prestigious Alpine platform as well as other trips abroad. He finds potential business partners for joint projects, tells about Tatarstan's possibilities, helps Tatarstan businesspeople to meet with foreign colleagues.

In different years, Director General of KAMAZ PJSC Sergey Kogogin, officials of Tatneft Shafagat Takhautdinov and Nail Maganov, Director General of TAIF PSC Albert Shigabutdinov were among the entrepreneurs who accompanied the president. The very president had negotiations with such world companies as Daimler AG, Coca-Cola, Intel, Philips Electronics. We can say Davos became a meeting of a higher level where Minnikhanov presented the projects of Alabuga, Innopolis and Smart City. The trips of the last years had the same business character when several countries started to consider Russia as a political antagonist, not a partner in the economy.

Undoubtedly, good relations with unchangeable chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab that were established when Minnikhanov was the prime minister help the president to work. In 2008, Schwab came to Kazan. In 2001, at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, Schwab noted that Tatarstan ''joined the family of the Davos Forum'' as one of the most economically developed regions of the Russian Federation.

The president uses the prestigious Alpine platform as well as other trips abroad. He finds potential business partners for joint projects, tells about Tatarstan's possibilities, helps Tatarstan businesspeople to meet with foreign colleagues. Photo: Moritz Hager (wef.dc2.orphea.com)

''Minnikhanov doesn't wait for downturns to increase''

Political expert Ilya Graschenkov thinks it's important that heads of Russian regions take part in the World Economic Forum themselves, without waiting for a push from the federal authorities. ''Tatarstan is a big economy that not only western investors but also the East, Turkey and others are ready to invest in. This is why the head of every region needs to present their possibilities. Minnikhanov works on a problem today, he doesn't wait for downturns to increase,'' the head of the Regional Politics Centre told Realnoe Vremya.

Mikhail Neyzhmakov sees both the practical and symbolic meaning of Rustam Minnikhanov's participation in the work of the WEF: ''The business community of Tatarstan really has a very wide network of foreign links and goes ahead of its colleagues in many other regions in this indicator. Kazan itself is one of the important Russian platforms for hosting international events. This is why active the participation of the head of such a region in big international forums abroad is explainable. The region's role in the field of the foreign economy gives additional opportunities to strengthen positions of its administration in the Russian system of power as well. In addition, participation in such forums that not many Russian governors have visited is a matter of prestige, aspiration of the leader of a Russian region to demonstrate that his region stands out.''

By Mark Shishkin, Rustem Shakirov