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December 10th, 2009

Nano-Potemkin Village

Why an ambitious Russian tech initiative is doomed to fail.

It sounds, at first, like an excellent idea: using government money to get new businesses off the ground, using primarily private funds, while simultaneously weaning the country off of petroleum.

But there are, of course, huge—and quite likely fatal—hurdles in the way of achieving such astronomical projections.

First, there are the money problems. Some of Rosnanotech's budget, observers note, came from the forced sale of the assets of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky's oil company seized in 2003. (The money, apparently, needed pockets.) And because it is a government corporation, notes Troika Dialog tech analyst Anna Lepetukhina, the money doesn't always get where it's supposed to go. "There's a question of the allocation of resources and it's not totally clear how it happens or who gets the money," she says. "All of a sudden, oops, it's gone."


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