A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – August 25, 2015) Winters are the stuff of legend in Russia and – despite a fair bit of warming – winter 2015/16 is shaping up to be one of the harshest, and most formative, in recent memory. After a brief period of respite – and muted acceptance of the “new normal” – to start the […]

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Ukraine’s largest lender PrivatBank investigated for diverting $1.8bn of IMF funds

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Kyiv – August 24, 2015) PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender partly owned by controversial oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, is under criminal investigation by the authorities for fraudulently diverting around what was then about $1.8bn, the bank has confirmed. “We are aware of the existence of criminal proceedings. PrivatBank fully cooperates with the investigators […]

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Economic Crisis Empties Moscow Central Streets

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – August 25, 2015) Even though Moscow retail property owners are increasingly willing to offer favorable lease terms to clients, Moscow’s central streets continue to lose their tenants who are forced to close their outlets due to the economic crisis. In the first half of the year, the vacancy rate in prime locations […]

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Russia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Risk Losing Right to Run Media

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 21, 2015) As the crackdown on Russian NGOs continues, the Communications Ministry has suggested forbidding those labeled as “foreign agents” from launching and registering media outlets. The proposal, part of a bill that the ministry published on a government website for draft laws, stipulates that non-governmental organizations registered as “foreign agents” […]

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Putin Said Ready to Revamp Inner Circle as Ally Yakunin Goes

Kremlin and River

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Ilya Arkhipov, Olga Tanas – August 18, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ready to start replacing long-serving allies in his inner circle after the sudden departure of OAO Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin as head of the country’s largest employer. Putin intends to bring in trusted younger people to shake up his team ahead […]

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Putin May Be Tiring of His Cronies

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 18, 2015) Vladimir Yakunin seemed eternal: Nothing he could do appeared to undermine his standing in the system President Vladimir Putin has built to run Russia. Yet now he is leaving the top job at the national railroad monopoly, after 10 years of mismanaging it. Putin may be realizing that tough economic […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

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(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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U.S.-Russian Paper Startup Sees Massive Success Despite Political Tensions

United States Map, adapted from image at epa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – August 18, 2015) One of the largest office supply retailers in the United States has offered a group of young Russian and American entrepreneurs an exclusive distribution deal for a new sticky note developed by the team after raising almost $250,000 on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Founded in January by two Russian cousins […]

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Head of Russia’s Mighty Rail Monopoly Looks Set to Step Down

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – August 18, 2015) Vladimir Yakunin, one of Russia’s most powerful executives and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, was nominated as a senator for the upper chamber of the Russian parliament Monday, a position that would oblige him to step down as head of the state rail monopoly Russian Railways (RZD). […]

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Russians Named Europe’s Least Productive Workers

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The productivity of the Russian workforce is the lowest among European countries, according to a report issued Monday by the France-based international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. In Russia, labor productivity – measured by the gross domestic product valued in U.S. dollars divided by the total number of hours […]

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Russia is swimming in oil; Russia’s oil industry lacks the infrastructure to avoid spills and leaks; and the environmental consequences are horrific

Oil Wells File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – July 28, 2015) Georgy Borodyansky is an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta. Russian oil giant Rosneft has dumped on us northerners once again. It’s unlikely that anyone apart from the locals would have heard about the pipeline which burst on the outskirts of Nefteyugansk if not for photos of the aftermath on social media. The pictures were taken […]

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Russia’s Book Industry Wanes as Russians Stop Reading

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

  (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – July 30, 2015) More Russian bookshops are facing closure every year, shaking the publishing industry and threatening writing as a profession. Bookselling, never the most profitable retail business, is struggling to stay afloat thanks to expensive shop rental rates and decreasing interest from customers. In Moscow, considered the most well-read city […]

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Classes Aimed at Raising a New Generation of Russian Businessmen

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexandra Tyan – July 28, 2015) The newly renovated VDNKh park in northern Moscow is investing in the future with the Young Investor School, which will open at Pavilion 14 early next month. Starting on Aug. 6, every Thursday and Friday, children between the ages of 8-14 can learn about the career of investment banking […]

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Ukrainian President’s Russian Candy Factory Wins Case Against Russian Taxman

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 23, 2015) A local court has sided with a Russian chocolate factory owned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a dispute with the tax authorities, news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday citing a court statement. The decision is a rare victory for the Roshen Confectionary Factory in Lipetsk, about 440 kilometers south of Moscow, […]

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Putin frees small business from inspections for three years

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 14, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law giving small companies a three-year holiday from regular inspections, a measure lawmakers hope will spur the development of small business in the country, according to a document published Tuesday [14 July] on the government’s legal information website. Small business is relatively underdeveloped in Russia, […]

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Majority of Russians think it is impossible to make millions honestly

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Francesca Moll in London – July 23, 2015) Most Russians believe that the country’s millionaires earned their money dishonestly, according to a recent survey. In a survey by the independent pollster Levada Centre, an overwhelming 70% of respondents answered “no” when asked if they thought you can earn millions of rubles honestly now in […]

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Putin Warns Russian Defense Industry Not to Fall Behind

Igla Missile Test Firing file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Anna DolgovJ – July 20, 2015) Russia’s military modernization drive is stalling this year under the weight of Western sanctions and the decay of the domestic defense industry, a deputy defense minister told President Vladimir Putin. The defense industry is struggling to keep to schedule on government contracts under a decade-long 20 trillion […]

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Are The E.U. And Asia Turning A Blind Eye To Russian Sanctions?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 8, 2015) In a previous article on Oilprice, I questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. In June, the Financial Times reported that only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding. It […]

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Saudi Arabia to invest $10bn in Russia via fund

Middle East Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 7, 2015) Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, will invest $10bn in Russia via the government-run Russian Direct Invest Fund (RDIF), in what will be Saudi Arabia’s biggest ever investment in Russia. “This is a landmark transaction, one of the largest transactions in the realm of sovereign […]

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Attack on Chubais Ally Marks Death of Russian Meritocracy – Experts

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 4, 2015) The criminal case opened this week against Leonid Melamed, the founder of Russia’s flagship innovations project, is directed against its divisive current head Anatoly Chubais, and reflects Russia’s drift away from a merit-based ruling elite, pundits told The Moscow Times on Friday. Rusnano’s reformist head Chubais has long been […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: Dismissal of American vice rector in Nizhny Novgorod causes controversy

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – July 3, 2015) The dismissal of an American lecturer from a leading position at a Russian university following an “incriminating” report on television sparked talk of an increase in the harassment of foreigners. Russian lawmakers are planning to introduce a “patriotic stop list” – a list of foreign funds […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Anti-Americanism provides big boost to Russia’s small IT businesses

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Russia’s economic conditions seem like they couldn’t be less hospitable to starting a new company. But small software firms are starting to thrive, in part because of Western sanctions

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Etalon still building as world huffs, puffs, tries to blow Russia’s house down

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris – June 24, 2015) The world may be huffing and puffing and trying to blow Russia’s house down. But the house made of brick is proving to be a match for sanctions and falling oil prices, to the extent that Russia’s leading residential developer Etalon Group continues to see its business prosper […]

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Consumer-Rights Advocate Calls Putin ‘Paranoid’ After ‘Foreign-Agent’ Slur

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 24, 2015) A Russian consumer-protection group lambasted by President Vladimir Putin as a “foreign agent” after giving cautionary advice to Russians traveling to annexed Crimea has accused Putin of “paranoia” and called him “badly informed.” Mikhail Anshakov, chairman of the Moscow-based Society for the Protection of Consumer Rights (OZPP), said his […]

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Business confidence in Russia falls but firms see economy improving

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Henry Kirby in London – June 22, 2015) Russia has fallen from the “positive” into the “neutral” expectations range in a Europe-wide study measuring business confidence of companies operating there. Russia’s score in the Association of European Businesses’ AEB-GfK Index dropped by 9 points from 115 in 2014 to 106 this year, out of […]

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St. Petersburg Economic Forum opens under a cloud

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in St Petersburg – June 18, 2015) The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), dubbed the “Davos of Russia”, kicked off on June 18 to a reasonably heavyweight turnout from the business world despite global tensions over Ukraine. With thousands of delegates from 144 countries, this is one of the biggest events yet, but […]

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Quiet days for books on Russia published in first half of 2015

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – BOOK REVIEW: Chris Weafer in Moscow – June 18, 2015) The first half of 2015 can hardly be described as a vintage period for new books about Russia. It seems that the Ukraine crisis and recession have led to many authors delaying completing their work until there is a little more clarity on how […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Struggling Economy Clouds St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Corporate executives head to President Vladimir’s Putin hometown for annual event

St. Petersburg

Corporate executives head to President Vladimir’s Putin hometown for annual event.

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Despite Tensions, U.S. Company Officials Attend Russian Economic Forum

St. Petersburg

The published forum program listed as attending Jim Rogers, chairman of the Miami financial company Beeland Interests; John Wories, president of Amsted Rail; and Jacob Frenkel, chairman of J. P. Morgan Chase International. David Bonderman, a founder of TPG capital, a private equity investor with shares in a grocery store chain here, also reportedly planned to attend. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/business/international/despite-tensions-us-company-officials-attend-russian-economic-forum.html?_r=0

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How the Soviet Union Wrecked Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – June 11, 2015) While Russia’s tussle with Ukraine may seem an unfair match, Ukraine does have one simple advantage – it makes a number of important vehicles and components that Russia needs to equip its military. After Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, Kiev brought its leverage to play and placed a […]

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Russia mines a richer seam; Amidst all of the doom and gloom in Russia’s economy, some of the large metals and mining companies had a surprisingly good 2014

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Mark Adomanis in Philadelphia – June 5, 2015) I’ve written before about Russia’s banking system and the annus horribilis of 2014. With the possible exception of Sberbank, Russia’s other large banks have been beset on all sides, massively writing down the value of loans they had previously extended to Russian corporations and also taking […]

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Poll shows 80 per cent of Russian businessmen see economic crisis in the country

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2015) Data from a telephone poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) shows that an overwhelming majority of Russian businessmen (80 per cent) believe Russia to be in an economic crisis now, while 16 per cent are sure that there is no crisis. Two-thirds of those polled believe that the crisis harms the sector […]

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Russia on track for poor harvest

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow, May 28, 2015) Russia is on course for a poor harvest after rains failed in key agricultural regions in the south. Following a record harvest in 2014, this year’s grain production could fall to levels last seen during the disastrous drought of 2010 – bad news for an economy already […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: The Putin Recession; Russia’s economy keeps shrinking, but the West won’t take advantage

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal editors address Russia’s economic crisis and the West’s apparent unwillingness to step up economic pressure. The Russian recession is expected to continue unfolding. An oddity of recent weeks has been the attempt to argue that Russia’s economy isn’t as awful as it looks. Then along comes Friday’s report that GDP fell 1.9% year-on-year in the first […]

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Russian Foreign Direct Investment Dropped 40% in 2014

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 19, 2015) Overseas investment by Russian companies fell to $56 billion last year, a 40 percent decline from 2013, even as China led a wider boom in foreign direct investment from emerging economies, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released Monday. The figure means that Russia […]

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NEWSLINK Bostinno: What Now for MIT and Moscow’s ‘Innovation City’? [Skolkovo]

Skolkovo File Photo

In 2011, MIT and Russian institutions including the Skolkovo Foundation launched a multi-year collaboration to facilitate the conception of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology—dubbed Skoltech— a private graduate research university in a suburb of Moscow that was designed to stimulate the Russian entrepreneurial ecosystem and address a number of pressing global issues.   http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/16/mits-skolkovo-tech-incubator-skoltech-struggles-in-russia/  

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Moscow Times: Despite Crisis, Most Russian Companies Aren’t Cutting Jobs

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 13, 2015) Despite the economic crisis, two-thirds of Russian companies aren’t cutting jobs and prefer to survive the crisis by shortening work hours or cutting workers’ salaries, a study by global management consultancy Hay Group found. “A lot of companies have refused to take radical measures, as in some sectors the situation has stabilized,” […]

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Moscow Government Approves Plans for Russian Disneyland

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 12, 2015) Moscow’s urban planning commission has approved plans for a children’s amusement park along the lines of Disneyland to be built in the Nagatinskaya Poima park in southeastern Moscow, City Hall said in a statement. The amusement park will include an indoor theme park operated by Hollywood animation studio DreamWorks, another park operated […]

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Is Gazprom a “buy”?

Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – May 7, 2015) [Chart here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/moscow-blog-gazprom-buy] With the RTS Index up 30% year-to-date, foreign investors are drifting back into Russian shares simply because they are so cheap. But is the bluest of Russian blue chips and long-time market proxy Gazprom a buy again? Russian investment bank Renaissance […]

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Dividend season opens and Russian companies are paying

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – May 6, 2015) It’s reporting season and some Russian companies are paying handsome dividends to their shareholders. Almost twice as much as emerging-market peers, in fact, relative to their stock prices, after the sudden ruble rout of last year bolstered exporters’ cash piles. Russian stocks have been performing well off the […]

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Sanoma sells Vedomosti to comply with Russian media law

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 30, 2015) Finnish publishing company Sanoma has sold its 33.3% share in the Russian business daily Vedomosti to publishing executive Demyan Kudryavtsev, in the latest shake-up to Russia’s media landscape caused by new legislation limiting foreign ownership. The stake in Delovoi Standard, the publisher of the daily, was sold to […]

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Russian Businessman Buys Moscow Times and Vedomosti Newspapers

Moscow Times Sample Covers and Mobile Device Display

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 30, 2015) Finnish media group Sanoma said Thursday it would sell The Moscow Times newspaper to a Russian businessman. Sanoma has agreed to sell United Press, which publishes newspapers and magazines in Russia including The Moscow Times, and signed a deal to sell its minority stake in business daily Vedomosti, the company said in […]

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