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Doing Business In Russia

Robert Dudley in Moscow in June
Russia's oil and gas sector is a fantastic place to make fantastic amounts of money these days. The only real problem seems to be keeping control of it.

Case in point is the troubles that energy giant BP is having with its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.

The partnership's president, Robert Dudley, is being forced to leave the country and work from abroad because of visa problems. This comes as TNK-BP struggles with tax investigations and major dispute with Russian shareholders over the joint company's direction.

The July 25 edition of "The Washington Post" has even more disturbing details on the star-crossed TNK-BP marriage.

It mentions that a former secretary-general of NATO, George Robertson, who is the company's vice chairman, calls Dudley's visa problems "an outrage."

Perhaps coincidentally, "The New York Times" published a strikingly similar tale of woe on July 24. The article documents the bureaucratic assassination of Hermitage Capital.

Its founder, William F. Browder, a big investor in Gazprom, also lost his visa. Russian tax police also raided his corporate and legal offices and brutally attacked an employee who questioned the search's legality.

Tax troubles and vexing visa issues? Sounds like a trend. Investors are supposed to be good at spotting those.

The Russian government says these are normal bureaucratic and business disputes that can and should be solved by the country's well-run legal system.

And if you believe that, I have a vast Siberian gas field I'd like to sell you.

--Bruce Jacobs

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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