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Gazprom Parties Hard, But Disappoints

It sounds like it was quite the bash: 6,000 people attending performances by Tina Turner, Deep Purple, and Alla Pugacheva (who managed to get both Dmitri Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov to get up and dance in front of the stage) to help Gazprom celebrate its 15th birthday. President Vladimir Putin was so happy with the party that he even extended the deadline to the Ukraine over the debt dispute, but then promised to aim nuclear missiles at Kiev if they joined NATO. But some are less than impressed by the imported celebrities, balloons, and big promises:

Mr Putin’s intervention in the Gazprom dispute with Ukraine merely confirms what has long been obvious: although the gas giant was ostensibly converted 15 years ago from a government ministry into a semi-private enterprise, it remains an arm of the Russian government. All the key decisions are taken in the Kremlin. Both psychologically and practically, Gazprom is not a commercial enterprise. It is the single most important instrument of the resurgent Russian state.Gazprom’s shares are attractive to investors, although the Russian state controls more than half. That is a reflection of the high gas price, not the profit-maximising behaviour of its management. In 15 years, Gazprom has yet to open a single important new gas field. It still relies on the giant Siberian gas finds developed in the Soviet era to supply its European markets. New prospects such as the Yamal peninsula and the offshore Shtokman field are years from coming on stream. Instead, the management concentrates on protecting its monopoly position by building or buying downstream assets, such as pipelines, or making political purchases, such as media ventures.