Luncheon with Russian Member of Parliament Ilya Ponomarev

January 17, 2015

On January 16, 2015 CGI hosted a private luncheon with Ilya Ponomarev, member of the Russian Parliament, opposition leader, and former head of International Business Development, Commercialization and Technology Transfer for the Skolkovo Foundation.

In February 2014, Mr. Ponomarev was the sole MP in the Duma to vote against Russia’s annexation of Crimea. During the discussion with CGI, Mr. Ponomarev addressed Russia’s current economic development and the effect of sanctions on U.S.–Russia commercial relations.

The following are highlights from Mr. Ponomarev’s remarks:

  • Since Putin replaced Medvedev in the Kremlin, Russia’s innovation initiative has been slowly decaying. For example, Russia used to be Europe’s second largest venture capital market. Now funding has virtually collapsed. Development of innovative economic growth requires entrepreneurs to bypass bureaucrats in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and pursue opportunities in other Russian regions, including Siberia and Tatarstan.
  • U.S. sanctions on Moscow have been too economically weak and focused on too few individuals to be truly effective. It is necessary to apply universal sanctions on a wide spectrum of the ruling elite in order for the policy to yield results.
  • Though the current climate has seriously hampered the U.S.-Russia relationship, Americans and Russians share an intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit that should be better recognized as a foundation for future cooperation. In practice, this means establishing exchanges that focus on “doing” rather than “teaching.”