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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Russia Eyes Reforms to 13 Percent Flat Income Tax; A new series of reform proposals could tie tax rates to income levels

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – February 22, 2017) #Russia has long prided itself on its simple 13 percent flat income #tax rate. But a series of reform proposals could push the country towards a progressive alternative. The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) are actively developing reforms for the Russian […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

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

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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Moscow Counting on Russians Passively Accepting Raising Pension Age beyond Male Life Expectancy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in […]

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‘Where Is This Country Going?’ Debt Crisis Tugs At Russian Federation’s Seams

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – January 2, 2017) A surprisingly harsh war of words has broken out between the Russian central government and one of the country’s most prosperous regions, in a sign of tension as cash-strapped Moscow struggles to fill its budget deficit. The government of the Republic of Tatarstan sought to soften the blow by pulling […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s oil output in October hits new post-Soviet era high” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

Russia’s oil output set a new post-Soviet era record high in October, rising 0.1 percent from September to 11.2 million barrels per day (bpd), energy ministry data showed …. underscor[ing] the difficulty the government could have in freezing output levels as part of a global pact with other top producers [to impact prices] …. Oil and gas sales account for […]

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Russian government gives general approval to 2017-2019 draft budget

Cash, Calculator, Pen

GORKI. Oct 13 (Interfax) – The Russian government on Thursday gave its general backing to the draft federal budget for 2017 and the planning period 2018 and 2019, the Cabinet’s press office told reporters. The draft socio-economic forecast for the period was also approved. “All the documents submitted for approval at the Cabinet meeting were approved. There will be some […]

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TRANSCRIPT (excerpts): [Medvedev at] Government meeting

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev Before Gold Flag with Elaborate Design

(Government.ru – October 13, 2016) Gorki, Moscow Region Agenda: federal budget and budgets of state extra-budgetary funds, socioeconomic development forecasts, budget, tax, customs and tariff policy guidelines for 2017 and the 2018-2019 planning period. Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s opening remarks: The Government is about to complete the drafting of the budget for 2017 and the 2018-2019 planning period. The entire […]

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Russia to Increase Military Spending While Slashing Welfare Budget

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2016) Russia’s military spending is set to increase by 679 billion rubles ($10 billion) despite the welfare budget decreasing by 375 billion rubles ($6 billion), the Gazeta.ru news website reported Tuesday, citing a source in the government. The government’s finance ministry published a bill of amendments to the welfare budget on Monday, announcing […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on budget planning

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Kremlin.ru – September 28, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on federal budget planning. Participants discussed the budget policy priorities for the upcoming period. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, Government efforts to draft the federal budget are entering the final stage. By November 1, the draft is to be submitted to the 7th State Duma. I am confident that […]

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Lost Trillions Haunt Russian Budget Keeper in Cheap-Oil Era

Tatiana Golikova file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova – September 21, 2016) To get a snapshot of a budget in crisis, visit any of the 10,700 abandoned construction sites that litter Russia, all that’s left after a trickle of state funding ran dry. The costly clutter is one reason the head of the Audit Chamber, a government agency that monitors […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian PM says economy should be overhauled”

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

Russia’s economy should over the next few years undergo an overhaul to remain competitive in the world, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an article entitled “Russia’s social and economic development: acquisition of new dynamics” for the Voprosy Ekonomiki (Economic Issues) magazine. …

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government finds itself under social spending pressure in election season” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

The Russian government will discuss either indexing pensions by 8.6% on September 1 or making a one-time payment to pensioners …. Despite the ongoing efforts to consolidate the budget amid the unprecedented fiscal squeeze, the government might have to give in to increasing social spending as the two-year election season starts …. The Russian government needs to find RUB2 trillion ($31bn) from somewhere […]

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