Today’s New York Times has an article by reporter Andrew Kramer on how Moscow is trying to remake itself into a financial hub, but running into problems:flag-russia

Having tried and failed to become a major financial center, Moscow is trying yet again — only this time it finds itself competing for business with Warsaw, not London, Tokyo and New York….But the Global Financial Center Index, published in March by Z/Yen, a consulting agency, placed Moscow 65th out of 79 cities studied. London was first, followed by New York and Hong Kong. The ranking placed Moscow between Bahrain and Mumbai. A survey by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation even ranked Moscow No. 30 out of 30 Russian cities for ease of doing business.

“Moscow was never going to be an international financial center,” a Western banker working here, who was not authorized to speak for his employer on the matter, said of the effort. “That was a joke.”

In a very comedic way, the brain-trust in Moscow believes that erecting a few glittery new objects will help solve the problem:

…city leaders are inviting business to glittering new skyscrapers, including the Mercury City Tower, which at 75 stories is the tallest building in Europe.

Sorry, Russia, but your problem is not a lack of fancy buildings. It is your financial corruption, Internet crackdowns, authoritarian politics, contempt for freedom, harassment of entertainers, rampant homophobia, endemic racism, an increasingly ignorant and superstitious population, xenophobia, and recent embrace of crooked religious leaders who wear gold watches while the people barely survive. It is Russia’s poor values that have transformed it into a Loser Nation and a moral cesspool that few intelligent people — no less investors — want to have anything to do with.

A few weeks ago, more than 280 top companies signed an Amicus Brief to the US Supreme Court in support of marriage equality, saying that it was good for business. In the opposite direction of this trend is poor, depraved Moscow, where authorities allow skinheads to attack defenseless gay rights advocates. Any country that chooses violent Neo-Nazis over gay pride is going down the tubes because it lacks the freedom for businesses to flourish.

Russia needs to liberalize and create an infrastructure for freedom — not skyscrapers, which is simply artifice masking deeper concerns about this backward nation that is going in the wrong direction by every conceivable measure.