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Russian and Japanese executives at Davos

I'm seeing a lot of Russians in Davos this year, but surprisingly little Russia. It's hard to say if it's a conscious decision by the Russian government, but if so, it strikes me as a pretty sound strategy. After all, Russia as a topic generally comes across as a negative in global circles--revisionist geopolitics, resource nationalism, and strongly authoritarian (albeit charismatic, in a fashion) domestic leadership. Instead, there are a healthy number of Russian executives going about their business, presenting on panels along with colleagues from other countries, and generally integrating well. It's probably their best Davos in a good long while.  

The Russians have nothing on the Japanese execs, who are here in serious force. Though absolutely none of whom are actually talking about Japan. Indeed, the only attendee I could find giving a bullish Japan story is Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who apparently is making money there cans over fist. For everyone else, it's a story of a dwindling population and flat consumption, but world-class technology, strong regulatory structure, and top-notch management. Japan's model apparently is to become a bigger Singapore.

Speaking of Singapore, a sad piece of trivia I just heard: after lots of lobbying and prodding, an Armenian friend of mine (full disclosure: my mum's also Armenian) recently got Singaporean minister and mentor Lee Kuan Yew to spend three days in Armenia. But the Armenian government initially didn't want to meet with him because they didn't know who he was. Land-locked, no resources to speak of, and apparently they don't read the paper. Oy.

Ian Bremmer will be blogging from Davos this week sending reports and commentary from inside the World Economic Forum.

PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

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