RUSSIALINK: “Pensions in Russia to keep growing after 2024 – Labor Ministry” – Interfax

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. July 9 (Interfax) – Pensions will continue to grow after 2024, but the Labor Ministry is not ready to say at what rate. “We are now calculating everything through 2024, although the calculations undoubtedly cover future periods. We’ll see, it will depend on how we can achieve the current tasks. Without a doubt, we are working on the assumption […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Authorities Prepare to Soften Pension Reform-Sources” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“[Sources claim that] Russian authorities are considering ways to soften a plan to raise the pension age … following protests and a slide in … Putin’s popularity ratings. The government announced its plan last month to raise the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 and for women to 63 from 55 to ease pressure on state coffers from […]

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Russians Rally Against ‘Cannibalistic’ Pension Reform

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – July 1, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russians-rally-against-retirement-age-increase/29330242.html) Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Russia to protest against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age. Labor unions, political parties, and opposition politician Aleksei Navalny had called on Russians to demonstrate on July 1 against a bill […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Daily says Russian leaders’ ratings drop as they announce pension reform; Yelena Mukhametshina and Olga Churakova: President and premier’s ratings go back to what they were several years ago. Effective discussion of pension reform could halt decline in authorities’ popularity” – Vedomosti

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

Vedomosti reports declining reported polling numbers for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, following announcements of pension reform. According to polling numbers published June 22, 2018, FOM [Public Opinion Foundation] indicates: Putin’s electoral rating fell from 62% to 54% in one week those trusting Putin fell from 75% to 67% Putin performance approval ratings fell from 75% […]

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World Cup May Have Helped Russia But It hasn’t Boosted Putin

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2018) Many commentators in both Russia and the West have suggested that the World Cup has helped Russia to overcome much of the opprobrium it has suffered as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, its meddling in elections in Western countries and in general its disruptive behavior. And it […]

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As World Watches Russia, Opposition Seeks To Score With Pension Protests

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – June 20, 2018) – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-world-cup-russia-opposition-pension-protests/29306847.html) As World Cup fever mounts in Russia, opponents of a government plan to raise the retirement age find themselves jostling for political position, with a handful of protests announced against the proposed measure set to coincide with soccer’s centerpiece […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Live Longer, Work Longer, Says Russian Government; But the plan to raise the pension age won’t go down well with most Russians” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 18, 2018) A long-shelved plan to raise the pension age risks coming up against a wall of protest, as Russians of all ages cling to their Soviet-era social privileges. Compared to many Western countries, Russians retire early: men at 60 and women at 55. Those who operate heavy machinery or work in difficult conditions […]

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Russia’s Oil Sector Is Facing A Massive Tax Overhaul

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – June 11, 2018) A major tax overhaul in Russia’s oil industry is about to start pressuring the earnings of major oil companies. Refiners will be hit hardest as the overhaul will increase the tax burden on downstream operations while the upstream sector will see taxes shift from production-based to profit-based. Last week, the Finance and […]

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Three Prospective Reforms Likely to Hurt Putin with His Political Base in the Population

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 3, 2018) Vladimir Putin has the coercive resources and elite support to remain in office regardless of whether the population supports or deserts him, but at least some of his power depends on his ability to mobilize his base which consists of government employees, industrial workers, and especially pensioners. At present, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin] Meeting with Accounts Chamber Chairman Alexei Kudrin; The President met with the new Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – June 4, 2018) Alexei Kudrin was appointed Chairman of the Accounts Chamber on May 22. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kudrin, have you started? Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin: Yes, I started my duties a week ago. The first week was very busy. We are finishing the audits across the ministries and agencies regarding their […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “[‘Let’s talk about Russia’s next top model – for economic growth …’]” – Bear Market Brief/Weekly Tea with Aaron Schwartzbaum (@aaron_schwa)

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“Let’s talk about Russia’s next top model … for economic growth …. Two camps have come to the forefront … statists and liberals. … [with] a clearer picture of the government, the question is which camp, if either, won. At first glance, it would look like the liberals at least did comparatively better. Glazyev may leave, Siluanov, a product of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Military: More Bark Than Bite; Russia remains a long way from possessing the ability to overwhelm larger, better equipped peer competitors” – The National Interest/Richard Connolly, Mathieu Boulegue

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade, adapted from image at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov with credit to Eric Draper

“… on the one hand, senior Russian officials, including the president, are publicly declaring the existence of a range of advanced new weapons systems, while on the other hand, spending plans suggest that the defense burden should decline into the early 2020s. … While official rhetoric in relation to military modernization – and in particular to the development of new […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s finance minister promises no new taxes, but hints at ‘adjustments'” – Meduza

Anton Siluanov file photo

“… Siluanov says Russia has no plans to change its tax system in the next six years, but there will be ‘adjustments.’ … the government is once again considering measures to simplify the tax code, in order to encourage more businesspeople to stop working in the economy’s ‘gray sector’ …. Russian media has repeatedly said the government is discussing major […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government gets a new programme and people” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

“… Russia’s petro-driven economic model was already clearly broken in 2013 when GDP growth dropped to zero at a time when oil prices were still over $100 per barrel. … the geopolitical showdown over first the fate of Ukraine and then the tussle in Syria meant that Putin postponed more prosperity as he redirected every spare penny into modernising Russia’s […]

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Putin vs. Pensions: Will His Reelection Finally Free Him To Tackle Looming Crisis?

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – May 16, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-vs-pensions-will-his-reelection-finally-free-him-to-tackle-looming-crisis-/29229857.html) It’s been the third rail of Russian politics for years, if not decades, but now an increasingly fragile economy appears to have forced the Kremlin to finally reckon with the country’s pension crisis. Russia’s pension system — […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Kremlin has big plans for the next five years, and it might need to raise Russia’s retirement age to pay for everything” – Meduza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… a leaked copy of … Medvedev’s next five-year budget plan … [anticipates] 25 trillion rubles ($403.8 billion) on 13 ‘national projects.’ … repeat[ing] many of the priorities of Medvedev’s … presidency and … Putin[] … executive orders. [kommersant.ru/doc/3628758] … new roads … demography … infrastructure … cancer and ‘the digital economy’ … broadband Internet connections [for] public sector facilities. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “To pay for a ‘Russia first’ agenda, Putin takes ax to military spending” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade, adapted from image at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov with credit to Eric Draper

“… [At his inauguration] Putin surprised many … declaring … a relentless focus on domestic development … partially paid for by sharp cuts in defense spending. … [a] projected surge in spending on roads, education, and health care …. A key source of that funding will be [taken from] the military budget … growing by around 10 percent annually for […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government ‘on the brink’ of increasing retirement ages” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

“Russian government ‘is on the brink’ of increasing retirement age in Russia … Medvedev [said] … The current retirement age of 55/60 years was set in USSR … in [the] 1930’s when average life expectancy was 40 … Medvedev argued … * * * The pension fund deficit currently amount[s] to RUB3.35 trillion ($53bn). In 2015 age pensioners amounted to […]

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Russia, Despite Military Ventures, Cut Defense Spending By Most In Decades

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 2, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-despite-ventures-syria-ukraine-cut-military-spending-last-year-most-since-1998-economic-collapse-western-sanctions-recession/29203634.html) Western sanctions and a long recession forced Russia’s military to slash spending by 20 percent last year, its first drop in nearly two decades, a closely followed think-tank report said. Despite Russia’s flexing of its military muscle around the world, with its […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian pension system’s 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted” – Meduza

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“Russia’s Labor Ministry has amended the Pension Fund’s 2018 budget to reflect a deficit that’s more than twice as high as predicted, rising from 106.6 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) to 256.8 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). The Pension Fund is expected to earn just 66.7 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), while spending 83.5 billion rubles ($1.3 billion). Spokespeople for the Pension Fund […]

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Kudrin sees budget maneuver adding 0.5%-1% to Russian GDP growth

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 24 (Interfax) – The so-called budget maneuver, which the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) sees as one of the main conditions for achieving sustainable economic growth and a tangible improvement in Russians’ living standards, will make it possible to achieve additional annual economic growth of 0.5% to 1%, CSR chairman and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Back $162 Billion Spending Spree for New Term” – Bloomberg

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin is planning a roughly 10 trillion-ruble ($162 billion) increase in spending on health care, education and infrastructure, hoping to kick-start sputtering economic growth in his new presidential term, according to people familiar with the plans. …. Some of the new spending will be offset with cuts … — the budget already calls for gradual reductions in military spending […]

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Interfax: Dvorkovich: president to decide income tax rate; difference between 13% and 15% not critical

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

MOSCOW. March 22 (Interfax) – The difference between the current individual income tax rate, 13%, and the rate now under discussion, 15%, is not dramatic, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said, emphasizing that the president would make a final decision on the rate. “The 13% income tax rate is not a fetish. I don’t think that the difference between 13% […]

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Kremlin Officials Split Over Putin’s Economic Promises

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 23, 2018) Russian fiscal policymakers are wrangling over how to fulfil newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin’s spending promises, with one senior Kremlin figure advocating a quick but painful revenue grab and another a more radical overhaul of taxation. During his campaign Putin promised higher healthcare and infrastructure spending, but did not say how this […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Voters Left Guessing at Putin’s Economic Plan” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin will enter Sunday’s election with little agreement among his top policymakers on an economic strategy for his next term …. Many Russians … prospered … [when] high oil prices contribut[ed] to bumper growth rates before … 2008 …. But the economy sank into recession after Western … sanctions … [over] Ukraine. A collapse in oil prices and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia explained in 10 charts” – BBC/ Alex Murray, Tom Housden, Anastasia Napalkova, Sandra Rodriguez Chillida, Joy Roxas, Zoe Bartholomew

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“1. Fewer people are poor … 2. But wage growth has stalled recently … 3. More people have a car, and there are more microwaves than households … 4. Russians fell in love with Ikea … 5. And champagne … There’s some dispute over how much Russians drink. … 6. … the internet took off … 7. But circuses are […]

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Russia should allocate at least 3.4 trln rubles for demographic development within next 6 years – Putin

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – At least 3.4 trillion rubles should be allocated for demographic development within the next six years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday. “We will have to allocate at least 3.4 trillion rules for demographic development measures and for the welfare of mothers and children within the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Russia’s Arctic military construction bigger than other countries’ – Shoigu” – Interfax-AVN

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

With regard to Russian military construction in the Arctic: “[Says] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu … ‘Since 2013, we have built 545 installations on over 710,000 square meters under Far North conditions. No other country in the world has carried out such massive construction on the Arctic latitudes’” Apparently with regard to broader Russian military infrastructure: “‘The geography of construction […]

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Russia Gets $41.5 Billion Boost From OPEC Deal

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 13, 2018) Since the start of the OPEC-Russia production cut deal, Russia’s oil companies and government have received the equivalent of around US$41.5 billion more in proceeds, thanks to the higher oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. Due to the higher oil prices as a result of the pact, Russia’s […]

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Interfax: Russia could have budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP, NWF could grow 3.5 trillion rubles in 2018 – Econ Ministry

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) – Russia could have a budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP in 2018 if current oil prices persist, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said in its latest monthly monitoring report. The National Welfare Fund (NWF) could in that case grow by 3.5 trillion rubles or around $60 billion at the current rate, it said. The NWF […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Weighs Biggest Spending Spree Since Putin’s Re-Election” – Bloomberg/Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Russia’s government is discussing a proposal to turn on the fiscal taps in what would be the biggest domestic spending spree since President Vladimir Putin last ran for re-election in 2012. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Before Election, Putin Offers $8.6 Billion to Russians to Have More Babies” – Bloomberg/Jake Rudnitsky, Olga Tanas

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

“… The government will spend 500 billion rubles ($8.6 billion) over three years on measures to encourage Russians to have more babies, including mortgage subsidies and payments to new and growing families …. The money will come from government reserves and won’t require changes in the budget, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the upper house of parliament. …”

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Kudrin says govt studying his proposals at Putin’s instructions

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 25 (Interfax) – Alexei Kudrin, head of the Center of Strategic Research and Committee of Civic Initiatives and former Russian finance minister, says President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to analyze his proposals on Russia’s development strategy. “I reported the key provisions of our proposals on the country’s development strategy to him. That primarily concerns the budget […]

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Interfax: Russia’s defense spending tops 5.3% of GDP, near $70 bln – PwC

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Russia ranks seventh among the world’s major defense-industry players, with defense expenditures totaling $69.2 billion, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a statement regarding its second Global Defense Perspectives report. In the current rating, Russia occupies seventh place; its defense expenditures amount to 5.32% of GDP and total $69.2 billion. It has moved up one position since […]

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Russia’s Regions Ask Moscow for Financial Help

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Kozlov – November 7, 2017) Against a backdrop of the Russian economy gradually coming out of recession and oil prices on the rise, the country’s far-flung regions have been feeling financial strain and are now asking the center for help. Udmurtia, a small republic east of Moscow, and its newly appointed governor Alexander Brechalov […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Russia Calling! Investment Forum” – KremlinRu

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(kremlin.ru – Oct. 24, 2017) Vladimir Putin spoke at the annual Russia Calling! Investment Forum organized by VTB Capital. This year’s event is being held under the slogan Manage the Difficulties, Control the Risks. The forum is the leading event in attracting portfolio and strategic investment in the Russian economy and promotes effective cooperation between Russian businesses and international investors. […]

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Putin Budget Points to Another Lost Decade for Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4m 2017) The three-year budget the Russian government has proposed suggests that Russia will continue to stagnate, poverty will continue to grow, and the country will fall further and further behind the developed world and even its nearest neighbors, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. In a lead article today, […]

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Siluanov names three structural areas for state budget spending in 2018-2020

Anton Siluanov file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 18 (Interfax) – The social sphere, defense and support for the national economy are the main areas of Russian federal budget spending in 2018-2020, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “The bulk of spending is stipulated for allocation to the social sphere – this is 36.4% – and defense – 29%. We are fulfilling the plan for arms and […]

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NEWSLINK: “Greasing the public’s hands: how oil and gas taxes financed the Kremlin’s social contract” – Bear Market Blog/ Miranda Lupion

Gas Flame file photo

“This past month, Russian news outlet RBC published a detailed report breaking down the revenue sources that funded the Kremlin’s 2016 federal budget. While the headline, “50 Companies Furnished Half of the Russian Budget’s Tax Revenue,” may come as no surprise to those familiar with the country’s business landscape, the fine print is worth a double take. In 2016, revenue […]

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NEWSLINK: “Little cash for Russia’s new Arctic development program; Ambitions are sky-high, but much hinges on private investments” – The Independent Barents Observer/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

“… The new Russian Arctic program has undergone major revision since the Ministry of Economic Development was commissioned to make a draft. The Ministry first proposed to allocated 209 billion rubles (€3.1 billion) of state cash to program implementation. Later, the sum was reduced to only 12 billion rubles (€177 million). Originally, the program was to cover the period until […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to spend $2.5 bln on Trans-Siberian, Baikal-Amur railroads. Investment is first stage in expanding railroad capacity to increase exports from Far East Russia.” – Asia Times

Russia Map

“Russian [sic] has approved US$2.5 billion to expand and modernize the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways as part of a larger rail project to boost economic growth and exports from the country’s Far East region that borders the Pacific Ocean. … Putin has given the green light for the government to allocate money from the National Welfare Fund for this stage of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s government moves from war budget to election budget” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The Russian government has moved from a war budget to an election budget as social spending soars and defence spending is cut. With the presidential election now only a year away, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, virtually unopposed, is expected to easily win, the Russian government has changed its budgetary focus and boosted social spending to soften up the electorate. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin announces cuts to defence spending in 2018” – RIA Novosti

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(RIA Novosti – August 15, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced cuts to defence spending in 2018 as a part of next year’s federal budget, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 15 August. “I would like to recall that significant savings are under review for next year’s budget, and incidentally, by means of reducing spending on defence. This […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Accounts Chamber Chairperson Tatyana Golikova

Tatiana Golikova file photo

(Kremlin.ru – August 10, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Chairperson of the Accounts Chamber Tatyana Golikova to discuss the results of the organisation’s work over the first half-year and the state of progress on instructions given following the Direct Line event. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, let’s start with the results for the first six […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to become a net borrower for first time in a decade” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia has been dipping into its rainy day Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit but this fund is due to run out of money sometime next year. Now the government is actively preparing to dip into its other sovereign fund, the National Welfare Fund, that was set up to meet future pension payments, but now will be […]

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Russia Sticks to Conservative $40 Oil Forecast for 2018 Budget

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 29, 2017) The Russian government is sticking to its conservative assumptions for oil prices as it drafts the budget for the next three years, relying mainly on domestic borrowing to finance the deficit in order to preserve its rainy-day funds. Oil prices are running above the government’s $40-a-barrel forecast, but growing supply […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Wars of the Future: Russian Defense Ministry’s New Modernization Plan; Upcoming re-armament program will offer clues on how Russia sees the future of war” – Moscow Times/ Michael Kofman

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… Delayed for two years owing to economic and budgetary volatility, the next phase of the State Armament Program (GPV), covering 2018-2025, is due to be finalized and signed by September. … [to] determine not just what Russian armed forces get next year, but the weapons and systems they will fight with into the 2030s. * * * … the […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “U.S. shale, trade and sanctions worry Russian Finance minister as economy gets back on track” – CNBC/ Geoff Cutmore, Alexandra Gibbs

Anton Siluanov file photo

[Scroll down for embedded video] “… Following last week’s decision by oil producers to extend output cuts by nine months to March 2018, Siluanov told CNBC that OPEC’s decisions would give opportunity [sic] for prices to stay at present levels, but that both producers and the ministry had to be on alert for any market changes. …” ‘On the one […]

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Fiscal rule already essentially in effect, might be formally introduced in 2018 – Belousov

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW. April 17 (Interfax) – The new fiscal rule that restricts Russian budget spending of additional oil and gas revenue is essentially already in effect, and it might be formally introduced in 2018, Kremlin aide Andrei Belousov said. “The fiscal rule comes down to cutting off the level of spending at an oil price of $40 per barrel. We negotiated […]

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