At least that’s the message I take away from Medvedev’s well-timed decision to award the Order of Friendship to Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad. It seems somewhat absurd to talk about the company’s “contribution to Swedish-Russian business” when the furniture retailer was forced to abandon all future operations in the country due to overwhelming and seemingly in surmountable corruption.
Is the idea now that Kamprad is meant to change his mind and come back to Moscow? Right up next to the Khodorkovsky affair, the Ikea corruption scandal is one of the most visible stains on the Russian business environment that Medvedev would like to remove. Here’s a suggestion: why not work on improving the root conditions of impunity that make such corruption proliferate, instead of just offering flattering awards to those who you want to invest?