On the Responsibility of Business in Russia

mbk052509.jpgMikhail Khodorkovsky has granted an extensive written interview to the Moscow Times in which he criticized the social responsibility practices and anti-crisis efforts of Russia’s business elite.  Keep your eyes peeled on the official MBK site for more on this story.

“No matter what the propaganda says today, our generation, including me, managed to do a lot to recreate Russian industry on a new economic foundation despite the deterioration of management systems and the utter degradation of industrial capacities,” he said. “If Russia seriously decides to develop an innovative economy, we will see the same situation in many sectors of the industry. There is a huge field to work on.”

Khodorkovsky said he wasn’t sure what Russia would look like after the crisis. “It depends on the business elite,” he said. “If they find enough strength within themselves to draft a new strategy of development, an optimistic scenario for Russia is possible. But it will not happen if they don’t draft it.

“So far, Russia is following the same path, earning on commodities and several ‘prestige’ projects, most of which are probably unprofitable,” Khodorkovsky said, without elaborating.

As for himself, Khodorkovsky said that as a free man he would liketo return to an interest in alternative energy projects that predateshis Yukos days. “I began to work with this back in 1987, ” saidKhodorkovsky, a graduate of the Mendeleyev Institute of ChemicalTechnology.

“I am especially interested in solar and power cells,” Khodorkovskysaid, adding that he hoped that it would be possible to cooperate withthe state on renewable energy projects.

Meanwhile, the ongoing deterioration of the economic situation willlead to an increase in public protests, Khodorkovsky said. “What oneshould be apprehensive about is that the protests may turn intorevolts,” he said. “I am not claiming that it will definitely happenlike that. But it might happen, and one can’t turn a blind eye to that.”

Photo: A member of the Russian opposition movement Solidarity, wearing at-shirt with a portrait of jailed Russian oil tycoon MikhailKhodorkovsky, attends a rally in Moscow on May 1, 2009 during thecelebrations of the May Day holiday. (Getty Images)