President Putin told the foreign business community of his nation’s desire to have them leave their positions in top executive positions within Russian companies. In a televised speech to the Russian public, their president said: “In our big, leading and already global companies, mostly in the raw materials sector, you know that the thin layer of top management is mostly made up of foreign specialists. Until we achieve ‘the replacement of imports’ …in administrative activity, we will be swept away by imports.” His comments came at a time when the Russian economy increasingly is coming under control of the Russian government.
Putin plays to jingoism and nationalistic feelings of the Russian people by portraying himself as a knight standing bravely holding off attacks by foreign elements. This rhetoric allows him to proceed with his real agenda which is to ensure the Russian economy is controlled– and frequently led — by the Russian government. In a sense, he is creating a unique private enterprise Soviet model economy in which the hand of the government is as important as that of individual business leaders. Putin can not shake off his Soviet training nor the experience of spending years in the KGB where control was always an important component of daily life, control over people and control to prevent anyone who threatened the power of government. His secret hero probably is Lenin, not Adam Smith.