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Learning English - Words in the News
11 February, 2005 - Published 16:58 GMT
Russia to restrict foreign bids for natural resources
Russian oil worker

Russia plans to bar foreign owned firms from bidding for major natural resources. A Russian government department said that only companies at least 51 per cent Russian-owned would be allowed to bid. This report from Andrew Walker:

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The decision by the Ministry of Natural Resources is the most explicit move yet to re-assert control over the extraction of the country's natural wealth, such as oil, gas and metals. But there have been other moves that have clearly unsettled some foreign companies that are interested in Russia. Events at the oil company Yukos are a striking case, where the main shareholder is in prison and the main asset has been forcibly sold off to pay a tax bill.

Yegor Gaidar was Russian Prime Minister in the 1990s and one of the leading architects of the moves towards the market economy after the end of communism. He says he has spoken to many leading business executives who are interested in Russia, but don’t like the political environment.

Yegor Gaidar
"They are extremely interested and they do understand that when you have a big economy with a big market which is rapidly growing, you just cannot be out of it if you would like to be a global player. The problem is that the Russian authorities have done everything they could to prevent big players coming to Russia."

He says that big international companies are generally pragmatic. He says they don’t care about the lack of democracy and can work well enough with corruption. But what they can’t stand, he says, is unpredictability. Nonetheless, Russia's extensive natural resources will mean that foreign businesses will continue to seek ways of being involved.

Andrew Walker, BBC Economics Correspondent

Listen to the words

clear and obvious

to re-assert control
to get control back and make your authority strong again

the extraction of
removing from the ground

made them lose confidence and feel nervous

a striking case
a clear example

one of the leading architects
one of the people who was most responsible for doing something

big players
large international companies

realistic, if you are pragmatic you accept that not everything will be perfect

not being consistent. If someone is unpredicatable you do not know how they will react in a particular situation, even if that situation has happened before.

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