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Putin’s power grab trumps nanotechnology

 The projects, known as Rusnano and Skolkovo, were meant to propel Russia’s raw-material economy into the technology age. They involved multibillion-dollar government investments, the first in nanotechnology and the second in a new city that would become Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley. They were supposed to provide the infrastructure and stability required to attract large amounts of foreign investment.

Now, both have become targets in Putin’s campaign to demonstrate that he’s being tough on corruption and mismanagement of government funds. As a result, their chances of succeeding are looking increasingly remote.

Putin himself ordered the establishment of Rusnano in 2007, endowing the state-owned company with $5 billion to invest in ventures that would put Russia at the forefront of the nanotechnology revolution. Headed by Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s early 1990s privatization, Rusnano initially had to place most of its money in bank deposits for lack of ready projects. Since then, it has managed to invest more than $3 billion.

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