By Emre G├╝rkan Abay
Russia letter, week beginning Nov. 21

-High level scandal

 The arrest last week of the most senior official to face trial in post-Soviet Russia, Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, was the most discussed topic in Russia last week.

Ulyukayev was detained overnight on Nov. 14 for allegedly taking $2 million from Russian oil company Rosneft for approving the company’s purchase of another Russian oil company Bashneft.

Rosneft bought a 50.08 percent stake in Bashneft last month, paying around $5.2 billion. Rosneft is controlled by Igor Sechin, a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest inner circle who is widely considered one of the most powerful people in Russia.

While the developments were reflected in the Russian media as “fight against corruption,” many experts also voiced their concerns that the move against Ulyukaev was a power struggle between the liberal wing and the more traditional wing of the Russian government.

Ulyukaev is known as a supporter of liberal economic reforms since the 1990’s and has been criticized for his view that government control over Russian companies should be reduced.

People like Sechin, who are aligned with the traditional wing of the government that supports more government control over Russian companies, are now seen as more powerful after Ulyukaev’s arrest.

After the arrest, Putin also dismissed Ulyukaev from his duties from the ministry and the name of the appointee that will take his position still remains unclear.

Ulyukaev is the first high-level bureaucrat to be arrested in Russia since 1991 and is expected to be sent to 15 years in prison.


- Turkish agricultural products were discussed

Turkish Minister for Agriculture Faruk Celik visited the Russian city of Sochi last week and met with his Russian counterpart Alexander Tkachev.

After his visit, Celik said that he and his Russian counterpart agreed that the Russian sanctions on five more Turkish products would be lifted this week.

The Russian government has lifted the ban on five Turkish products on Oct. 11 and 16 different types of Turkish products still remain on Russia’s sanction list. 

21 Nov,2016