U.S. businesses still profit despite new unrest in Russia

In Russia this weekend, protestors rallied against the alleged rigging of parliamentary polls in a new challenge to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin's authority.

Adriene Hill: Russians are calling for a new election and the ouster of Prime Minister Vladamir Putin. The wave of protests there is being called the biggest since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

That was 20 years ago when, in the early hours of December 25th, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev signed over his few remaining powers to Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin. A move that opened up huge opportunities for American businesses.

Peter van Dyk Reports from Moscow.


Peter van Dyk: Twenty years ago, U.S. trade with Russia barely existed. It totaled just two and a half billion dollars. This year, PepsiCo paid twice that to buy Russia's leading juice producer. And Ford and GM now sell tens of thousands of cars here. But the road to success in Russia for U.S. companies has had its twists and turns.

Andrew Sommers: Well, it hasn't been simple. It was complicated by the nineties, which was a mix of rather disorganized efforts at democracy and a market economy.

van Dyk: Andrew Sommers is the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. He says the collapse of Russia's currency in 1998 saw some companies pull out.

Sommers: Those American companies who stayed recovered well during the Putin years, when stability was reintroduced into Russia.

van Dyk: Now, mass protests against flawed elections mean that stability is under threat for the first time in a decade. But the prospects for American companies in Russia look brighter than ever. The World Trade Organization has just invited Russia to join.

In Moscow, I'm Peter van Dyk for Marketplace

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