Russia In-Country Evaluation: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Policy Advocacy, 2007

Over the past two decades, Russia has gone through many transformations. The country’s leaders conducted democratic reforms in the 1990s, but the country has been moving in the reverse direction since 2000. With Dmitry Medvedev coming to power as Russia’s new president, the West has yet to see in what direction he will lead the country. Although some analysts at the time envisioned no changes with former president Putin still playing an influential role as a prime minister, optimists had hoped that Medvedev would take a softer stance on issues related to democracy and market-oriented reforms.

With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has been working with 17 regional coalitions of business associations in Russia to assist these to advocate for policy changes that will improve their business environments. These coalitions are encouraging reforms in order to contribute to stronger local economies, building mechanisms for public-private dialogue, calling for transparency in governance, and preventing Russia from backsliding from its democratic progression.

This project began in September 2002 as a four-year business advocacy program – later extended until 2009 – coordinated by CIPE and supported by USAID. Working in cooperation with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and non-profit partnership the Union of Business Associations (OPORA), CIPE continues to provide technical assistance and support to business association coalitions in Altai, Astrakhan, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Kirov, Krasnodar, Nizhniy Novgorod, Perm, Primorskiy, Rostov, Samara, Saratov, Smolensk, and Volgograd regions, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and North Ossetia-Alayna.

During the first phase of the project, Round One regional coalitions – Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Perm, Primorskiy, Samara, Saratov, and Volgograd – identified the local business barriers faced by their members and organized local advocacy campaigns to push regional governments to implement reforms. In order to encourage a multiplier effect of the successes of the Round One group of eight regional coalitions, CIPE subsequently expanded the program into nine new regions of Russia – Altai, Astrakhan, Kamchatka, Kirov, Nizhniy Novgorod, and Rostov regions, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and North Ossetia-Alayna.

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