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Leonid Bershidsky

A Fired Analyst Got Too Close to Gazprom's Truth

A report from Russian state bank Sberbank made the bold suggestion that Gazprom is run for its suppliers, not shareholders.

Shoot the messenger.

Shoot the messenger.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

The analyst report on Russian giant Gazprom that got its co-author fired should be required reading for Western politicians trying to figure out how to fight “dirty Russian money.”

Headlined “Gazprom: Performing As Designed,” the report, authored by two analysts at state-owned bank Sberbank, Alex Fak and Anna Kotelnikova, advances a maverick theory: that Russia’s natural gas monopoly isn’t badly run, as many minority shareholders assume from its enormous capital expenditures and slow-growing revenues; but simply performing for a different group of stakeholders — namely, Gazprom’s contractors. The contractors and the company, they write, “are united in their desire to promote any and all boondoggles, at least within the boundaries of Russia, where their activities will face less scrutiny. Moreover, they are thought to be better connected to the ultimate node of power in Russia than anyone who might possibly be interested in running Gazprom for shareholders.”