Moscow, 31 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, says he expects the climate for doing business in Russia to improve significantly by the end of the century.
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL in Moscow yesterday, Pickering said he expected what he called a "sea change" in the climate for business and investment in Russia by the year 2000. He warned against those who underestimate Russia's potential for rapid economic development.
Pickering, a career diplomat, is due to leave his post as U.S. ambassador to Russia tomorrow and retire from the foreign service.
Pickering said Russia had made tremendous progress since he was appointed ambassador more than three years ago. But he said further progress would depend on the ability of the government to take steps to boost tax collection and improve the legal basis for both foreign and Russian businesses.
Pickering said it is unwise to focus too much on reports of recent Kremlin infighting, which he said was not "the defining elements" of current Russian politics.
A replacement for Pickering will be named only after the U.S. elections next week and will have to be confirmed by Congress. John Tefft, the deputy charge d'affaires, will become acting ambassador until Pickering's successor is appointed.