As confusion reigns in Russian macro-economic forecasting, most over-sized state corporations created within the past two years are paralyzed with bad debt and falling demand -except the almighty gas monopoly Gazprom.
It is in the European market that Gazprom tries to maintain the momentum of aggressive expansion expecting that economic troubles will force each country and company to fight for their own interests frustrating the efforts of the EU Commission to forge a common energy platform. Gazprom's future is highly intertwined with the survival of Putin's regime, which is not only tested by the crisis but also increasingly an obstacle in the path of recovery. One focal point of the simmering political discontent is the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, now approaching the decisive moment. The prosecution did not bother preparing a solid case, and the defense team was able -and was allowed to- expose the Kafkaesque absurdity of the accusations (www.grani.ru, April 9). Medvedev has tried to distance himself from the case, but there is no way he can avoid the responsibility for the verdict. One particular angle of this process is that Gazprom is a major accomplice in dismembering Khodorkovsky's Yukos -and so is also on trial.