Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – March 21, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Monday’s hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election and the alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin yielded inspiring news for […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why Russia does not want to join OPEC; Russia sees oil club as a competitor, though they share tactical interests”

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MARIA KUTUZOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH) Russia is not considering joining OPEC, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak has told a U.S. conference. Speaking during the CERAWeek Oil Conference in Houston, Texas early March Novak added: “But our cooperation with the oil exporting countries has proven to be necessary and useful.” He has often spoken […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Plenary session of Congress of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Kremlin.ru – March 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin addressed a plenary session of the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The congress is being held as part of the X Russian Business Week (RBW) on March 13-17, hosted by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The RBW participants coordinate proposals on key areas of interaction between the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian corporate governance comes in from the ‘Caveman era'” – bne Intellinews/Jason Corcoran

“Russia’s new corporate governance code … in place for two years, is being increasingly adhered to, according to market participants. Other reforms undertaken by the Moscow Exchange – as well as an increase in domestic liquidity – is accelerating the trend for more companies to list in the Russian capital rather than in London. …” [featured image is file photo, […]

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The Russian Billionaires on Bloomberg’s Rich List; Only a select few of Russia’s oligarchs make it to the top of the world’s rich lists.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – March 6, 2017) Russia is home to droves of millionaires, business owners and oligarchs: but only a select few make it to the top of the world’s rich lists. Just eight Russian businessmen have made it into the top 100 of Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Together, they boast an estimated net worth of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia pushes to rid itself of ‘Potemkin’ banks by 2019” – Reuters/Alexander Winning, Andrey Ostroukh

“Russia plans to extend a review of bank licenses for another two years, shutting down scores more banks after closing hundreds in the past four years, mostly for committing fraud or other crimes …. Vasily Pozdyshev, a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank, says … his team is still finding more propping up criminal activity and would need until 2019 …. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – March 3, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin to discuss the Year of the Environment in Russia, including ways to reduce emissions and the adverse impact on the environment, to introduce best available technologies, and to protect rare animals. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Khloponin, the Year of the Environment is underway in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The fate of Russian stocks hinges on politics and oil” – CNBC/Rebecca Ungarino

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“… The Moscow composite index is down nearly 8 percent year to date, underperforming the U.S. by nearly 15 percent as optimism around the possibility of the removal of trade sanctions against Russia fades. And crude oil, which weighs heavily on the Russian economy, has traded in a narrow range so far this year, offering no help to Russian stocks. […]

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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian IPO wave on the way” – bne/Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“A wave of Russian IPO could be gathering momentum out to sea after iconic toy store Detsky Mir placed its €333mn IPO earlier this month. Russia’s equity market has come back to life with about $1.9bn worth of securities issued in just the last three months. …”

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Russia’s Largest Oilfield May Be About to Gush Cash Once Again

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman, Andrey Biryukov – February 15, 2017) #Russia’s largest #oil field, so far past its prime that it now pumps almost 20 times more water than crude, could be on the verge of gushing profits again for #Rosneft PJSC. Samotlor, the 25 billion-barrel giant that bankrolled the Soviet Union for decades, would be the biggest […]

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Brazil, Russia Get Top Marks in Emerging Market Survey

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Yumi Teso, Lilian Karunungan – February 12, 2017) [Charts here https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-12/brazil-russia-favored-in-emerging-market-survey-china-dodged] Combine the prospects for interest-rate cuts with their higher carry-trade returns and two countries stand out as the best bets this year in emerging markets: Brazil and Russia. In a survey of 16 investors and analysts conducted Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the nations’ bonds […]

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NEWSWATCH: “With court ruling, Kremlin moves to block political biggest threat: Navalny. The ruling reinstating a guilty verdict for anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny effectively rules him out of next year’s presidential race. But it may help him remain a viable Kremlin opponent.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and River

“The legal odyssey of Russia’s best-known opposition leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been mindbogglingly complicated, full of twists and turns. … with a simple and totally predictable political result. … a regional court’s ruling … upheld … Navalny’s embezzlement conviction and handed him a five-year suspended sentence … [making it] almost impossible for him to run against … Putin […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West

Eurasia Map

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – February 3, 2017) To many observers, the appointment of Tillerson to the helm the State Dept signaled the Administration’s priority of supporting the oil industry, which in recent years has been under severe pressure from OPEC’s campaign of over-production that forced prices down to a post-recession low. Seen from a different angle, the move also […]

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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American Business Lobby In Moscow Sees Sympathetic Ally In President Trump; The American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow isn’t happy about sanctions. But don’t call it a policy position.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 2, 2017) In mid-December, with Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency looming, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston flew to Moscow. Kingston, a senior Trump surrogate, was dispatched to liaise with American firms working in Russia. The topic on everyone’s minds was the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its […]

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Russia Nears End of Recession as GDP Shrinks Less Than Forecast

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 1, 2017) Russia edged closer to exiting its longest recession in almost two decades as mining, manufacturing and agriculture added to stabilizing oil prices to steady the economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter. Gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent last year after an upwardly revised decline of 2.8 percent in 2015, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “McDonald’s to Open at Least 50 New Restaurants in Russia in 2017” – Reuters

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

McDonald’s plans to open more than 50 restaurants in Russia this year and hopes to sign more franchising deals to expand in existing and new regions, the local unit’s chief executive said on Tuesday. The fast-food chain opened 73 restaurants in Russia last year, exceeding its forecast. Of the newly-opened restaurants, 65 are company-owned, Khamzat Khasbulatov, head of McDonald’s Russia, […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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Prosecutors should continue paying more attention to protecting fair business from pressure, unjustified checks – Putin

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – Fair business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks, prosecutors must continue work in this direction, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Fair, honest, transparent business must be reliably protected by the state, including from unjustified checks and other pressure,” he said at a meeting on the occasion of the 295th anniversary […]

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Econ Ministry to prepare measures in Feb to improve Russia’s Doing Business rating

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – The Economic Development Ministry plans to prepare a list of measures in February to further improve Russia’s Doing Business rating. “The need to further improve the business climate has been spoken of. Here standard work for moving further ahead is underway. Russia made a very big step in the Doing Business rating, for instance, over […]

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Russia Sets Oil Production Record in 2016

Oil Well file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 2, 2017) Russia set a record for annual oil extraction in 2016 amid some of the lowest oil prices in recent history. In 2016, Russia extracted 527,499 million tons of oil and gas condensate, a 2.5 percent increase from 2015. The figure represents a previously unseen high, according to data from Russia’s Fuel and […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why has a Moscow restaurant been named after Stalin’s secret service?”

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

“In December 2016, a restaurant in central Moscow changed its name to NKVD, an abbreviation closely associated with the bloody period of Stalin’s Terror of the 1930s. Human rights activists are outraged, Stalin supporters are rejoicing, while experts point out that the proprietors have just come up with a cynical way of making money through provocation.”

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NEWSWATCH: “In Moscow, Trump’s tapping of Tillerson lifts hope of U.S. rapprochement; Russian experts know ExxonMobil CEO and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson well, and see Trump’s selection of him as a signal that genuine detente is a possibility.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Rex Tillerson file photo, adapted from image at readyagain.gov

“It’s a rarity for Moscow to be enthusiastic over a US president’s choice for secretary of State. It certainly wasn’t the case for either of the past two secretaries, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. … Trump’s decision … to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is proving to be a pleasant surprise to Russia. … the nomination … seems evidence to […]

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Russian Energy Minister Says Oil Cuts to Start in January

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Annmarie Hordern – December 11, 2016) Russia’s oil producers have started preparations to meet the nation’s pledge to curb output as part of the “historic” pact between OPEC and 11 producers outside the group, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. “The first stage of the cut we will see as soon as early January,” Novak […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin made a working trip to Chelyabinsk Region

File Photo of Russian MI-26 Helicopter in Afghanistan with MI-17 Helicopter In Background

(Kremlin.ru – December 5, 2016) The President toured the Makeyev State Rocket Centre in Miass, where he held a meeting on the centre’s activity. Vladimir Putin took part in the launch of a new production line at the Eterno Plant in Chelyabinsk, which produces advanced components for pipe systems using nanotechnology. The Eterno Plant is a joint project of the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Continue the Unfinished Business of Integrating Russia into the Global Economy. Renewed economic interaction would increase the West’s influence, not lessen it” – The National Interest/Carnegie Corporation/J. Andrew Spindler

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump has an unusual opportunity … to improve the tone of U.S.-Russian relations, currently at one of their lowest ebbs …. The positive possibilities in the short run are substantial …. the potential for a U.S.-Russian collaboration in the Middle East, particularly with regard to defeating ISIS and developing a peace plan for Syria. … there are many other […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Last chance? Putin vows – again – to bring economic reform to Russia. In his state of the union speech Thursday, Putin said he would wean Russia from its oil dependency, revive its flagging economic dynamism, and restore its global reputation. But his window may be closing.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

… pledging … deep domestic reforms to wean Russia from its oil dependency, revive its flagging economic dynamism, and restore the country’s global reputation … Putin may be putting [his] powers to the test. … analysts say this may be the last chance to start delivering. … Putin … clearly realizes that … approval ratings depend heavily on … public […]

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Russia Is Finally Making Headway In Its Pivot East

Asia Map

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – November 22, 2016) Russia’s long planned pivot east found itself unexpectedly wrong-footed in early 2014, following the Crimean referendum and subsequent western rebuke. The global collapse of oil prices – and that of the ruble – later that same year further eroded Russia’s leverage in Asia. Fast forward to the present and we’ve seen substantially […]

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Big Western Companies Are Pumping Cash Into Russia

File Photo of Ikea Store with Russian Language Facade and Shopping Carts

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 22, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/bouncing-back-putin-s-shrunken-economy-lures-foreign-investors] Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Fate of Russia’s Liberals” – Stratfor

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

Russia’s economic and political problems are piling up, and they may be putting members of the country’s more liberal circles at risk. In the most high-profile arrest to be made in post-Soviet Russia – and arguably, since the 1950s – Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was detained … on charges of bribery and extortion. … Russian authorities [said] Ulyukayev received $2 […]

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The Loyalty of Fear; Putin sends a message to the elite with the arrest of Russia’s economic development minister

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog, Mikhail Fishman – November 16, 2016) It was an awkward, dramatic national moment for Russia: a bonafide minister of the federal government standing in court as the defendant, facing corruption charges and promising his cooperation to prosecutors, pleading to be released on bail. The hearing ended slightly anticlimactically, with a decision to place […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Visit to Avtodizel plant (excerpt)

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

(Kremlin.ru – November 12, 2016) [DJ: For a better sense of real issues in Russia that concern Putin read the complete long transcript here: en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/53244] During his trip to Yaroslavl, Vladimir Putin visited the Avtodizel Yaroslavl Motor Plant, part of the GAZ Group, which produces goods under the YaMZ brand. The President saw the production process and met with the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “World Bank Improves Russia Economic Outlook, Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth in 2017” – Reuters

World Bank Building

… the World Bank said …. Russian gross domestic product will contract by 0.6 percent … oil prices are projected to recover to an average of $55 per barrel in 2017 [and] the Russian economy is expected to bottom out in the second half of this year. The World Bank sees it growing by 1.5 percent in 2017 and 1.7 […]

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Russia Supreme Court Proposes Ban on Pre-Trial Detention for Economic Crimes

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2016) The plenum of Russia’s Supreme Court has proposed banning the arrest of individuals accused of several varieties of economic crimes, the Prime news agency reported Thursday. According to the proposal, suspects can still be detained, but cannot be kept in pre-trial detention if they stand accused of several economic crimes: commercial fraud, […]

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The Beginning Of The End For Europe’s Natural Gas War

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Nick Cunningham – October 27, 2016) Russia’s Gazprom is on the verge of striking a deal with EU regulators to settle a half-decade old dispute over natural gas pricing, and the resolution could change the way Gazprom does business and lead to lower gas prices for much of Eastern Europe. The conflict began back in 2011 when EU […]

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Russia’s Oil Industry Is Making The Most Of A Weak Ruble; Record Oil Production and Capital Spending Supported by Favorable FX Rate

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – October 21, 2016) While Russian federal revenue from oil and natural gas production has declined significantly in response to low oil prices, oil and natural gas companies have actually increased investments or only seen modest declines, according to the EIA. In ruble terms, the Brent price has actually increased by 40 percent from 2010 levels, while decreasing in […]

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MEDVEDEV SAYS RUSSIA’S CURRENT SYSTEM OF BUSINESS OVERSIGHT INEFFECTIVE

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

Interfax: Daily Headline News for October 19, 2016 [excerpt re Medvedev] Control and oversight activity in Russia in its current form is not effective enough, and is corrupt and unmanageable, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday. “It is clear that control and oversight activity in the form it currently exists causes very much criticism, and is considered to […]

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MEDVEDEV: ADMINISTRATIVE BURDEN ON COMPANIES, INDIVIDUALS MUST BE REDUCED

Artist's Rendition of Pile of Papers Shaped Like Human, Wall of File Cabinets, Flying Pieces of Paper

Interfax: Daily Headline News for October 19, 2016 [excerpt re Medvedev] The administrative burden on companies and individuals arising from regulatory and supervisory actions must be reduced, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “The administrative burden on companies, enterprises and citizens must be reduced,” he said at a meeting of the presidential council on strategic development and priority projects. “A responsible […]

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RUSSIALINK Russia Today/RT: “Rosneft boss says no to output freeze or cut”

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

“The man in charge of Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft is skeptical about a global crude production freeze or cut, despite President Putin’s pledge to cooperate with OPEC.”

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Russia Must Deal With Catastophic Brain Drain; With brain drain, only leaders and those who leave are winners: the country is the big loser.

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yelena Mukhametshina – October 7, 2016) After suffering a major brain drain in the 1990s, Russia is once again witnessing a rise in emigration. But whereas people back then left the country because of the crumbling economy, now they are leaving even as the government attempts to diversify it, writes Committee for Civil Initiatives (CCI) […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The murder that killed free media in Russia; A decade after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, news organisations increasingly avoid topics that could anger the Kremlin” – The Guardian (UK)/Shaun Walker

File Photo of Mourners with Photo of Anna Politkovskaya

 … In the decade since [Anna] Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed …. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship. … news sources have […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Eastern Economic Forum (excepts)

Asia Map

(Kremlin.ru – September 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum. This year, representatives of 35 countries applied to attend the forum. In total, delegations from 56 countries are taking part. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Park Geun-hye, Mr Shinzo Abe, friends, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Vladivostok, to the second Eastern […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Businessman takes hostages in Moscow bank in desperate plea to Putin”

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

On Aug. 24, a bankrupt businessman took the staff and customers of a bank in downtown Moscow hostage in a bid to attract the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the plight of those in his position.

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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