A Corruption Trial Splits the Kremlin; The former economy minister got caught in a sting, and no one knows where Putin stands.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer, Irina Reznik – October 11, 2017) The first prosecution of a minister for graft under Russian President Vladimir Putin contains the kind of details you’d expect in a spy novel, from hidden microphones and coded hand signals to homemade sausages and a bag stuffed with cash. The case against former […]

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Navalny Fund Publishes Retractions in Usmanov Libel Suit

Alisher Usmanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 11, 2017) The Anti-Corruption Foundation has complied with a court order to publish retractions related to a video critical of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Foundation founder and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sued for libel in April by Uzbekistan-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov over allegations of bribery. Navalny is currently serving a 20-day jail […]

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NEWSWATCH: “OPEC Pushes Russia to Continue Helping on Oil Prices” – Wall Street Journal/ Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, Nathan Hodge

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

As King Salman becomes the first Saudi Monarch to visit Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by OPEC to keep Russia in an ad hoc coalition to suppress global oil production. “Saudi Arabia and OPEC are lobbying Russia to stay on board with their efforts to raise oil prices, amid signals that Moscow wants to end its participation in costly […]

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The Best Quotes From Putin at the Russian Energy Week Forum

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2017) President Vladimir Putin took part in the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on Wednesday, where he spoke about North Korea, his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and electric cars. Here are some of the highlights: On the elections next year – “I haven’t decided whether I’m going to run at […]

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Saudi Arabia to Plan Russia Deals, Deepening Energy Ties

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Wael Mahdi , Elena Mazneva, Ilya Arkhipov – October 3, 2017) Saudi Arabia is looking at unprecedented deals to acquire #oil and #gas assets in Russia, deepening ties between the world’s largest energy exporters as the Saudi king prepares to visit Moscow later this week. OPEC’s biggest crude producer is considering investing in Russia’s largest oil […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Yandex, a Russian Success Story and Putin’s High-Tech Tiger” – Moscow Times/ Elizaveta Osetinskaya

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“Last week, Yandex, the giant search engine and a symbol of Russian tech prowess, celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Its founder Arkady Volozh played host to … Putin, who praised Yandex at its stylish glass headquarters in downtown Moscow. … Bloggers sarcastically pointed out that the Russian leader famously doesn’t use the internet and once described it as the brainchild of the […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting with business community representatives” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – September 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with representatives of the Russian business circles and associations. The meeting was attended by over 50 business leaders, CEOs of leading private companies and companies with government participation, banks and public organisations. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Before we start working and take our seats let us […]

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Business community expects economic reforms in Russia after presidential vote – Gref

Sberbank File Photo

MOSCOW. Sept 7 (Interfax) – The business community expects that Russia may begin extensive economic reforms after next year’s presidential elections and the preparatory stage is now underway, Sberbank of Russia (MOEX: SBER) CEO Herman Gref said in an interview on NTV television. “The expectations of business and, in general, the entire country is that such an extensive reform process, […]

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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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Russia Expands Grip on Wheat Exports as Asia Set to Buy More

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Manisha Jha, Anatoly Medetsky – August 31, 2017) Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, is about to grab even more customers in the fast-growing economies of Asia — a region that normally gets most of its imported grain from somewhere else. A farm industry that emerged from the former Soviet Union to become a wheat-trade powerhouse […]

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What Jolted Russia’s Investments Is About to Fizzle Out; From pipelines to cash registers, the factors that caused last quarter’s pickup in investment are only temporary

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 30, 2017) [Text with charts bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/what-jolted-russia-s-investments-is-about-to-fizzle-out] Russian investments have spiked to a five-year high as the economy exited recession, but the factors that drove the boom are already fading. Fixed-capital investment accelerated an annual 6.3 percent in the second quarter, according to Bank of Russia estimates, the most since 2012. The jump […]

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Leonid Bershidsky: Trump’s Business Record in Russia Is Humiliating; He never had what it takes to negotiate with Moscow.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 29, 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. The latest Trump-Russia revelations — this time concerning a Moscow real estate project scuttled in early 2016 — fit in well with the comical history of […]

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A Month After Tighter Sanctions, Russia Risk Drops to a Four-Year Low

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff, Ksenia Galouchko – August 24, 2017) [Text with charts: bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-24/month-after-sanctions-storm-russia-risk-drops-to-four-year-low] Less than a month after the U.S. toughened its main sanctions against Russia, a measure of the country’s political risk is back to its lowest level in four years. The cost of insuring Russian debt against default for five years using credit-default swaps dropped […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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Soviet-Era Grain Record Seen Tumbling on Bumper Russian Crop

File Image, Map of Russian Wheat Production by Region, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anatoly Medetsky – August 21, 2017) A quarter century after the collapse of the USSR, Russian farmers are finally poised to beat the record for grain production that the country set during the Soviet era. The harvest will total at least 130.7 million metric tons this year on bumper wheat and corn crops, said Vladimir Petrichenko, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Back to the land: Russia’s farming transformation; Can government policy and a new foodie class turn the country into an agricultural force?” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“… With 123 million hectares in arable land – the world’s third-largest area behind only India and the U.S. – Russia has the potential to be an agricultural superpower. The country has 36,400 agricultural enterprises and 174,600 farmers, according to the 2016 agricultural census. … although the broader economy has been in the grip of recession over the past two […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Skolkovo File Photo

“… The troubles of Mr. Trubitsyn, however, may help explain why such a breakthrough has proved so elusive: The Russian state, which Mr. Putin has made the main vehicle for his plans for the nation’s resurgence, often stifles growth. A bureaucracy empowered by a steady erosion of democratic checks and balances can often smother new ideas. Grand state-directed projects to […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why New U.S. Sanctions Could Be a Ticking Time Bomb for Investors in Russia” – Moscow Times/ Elisabeth Braw, Nabi Abdullaev

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

“The 755 staff forced to leave the U.S. embassy by … Putin may seem to have little to do with private companies wishing to invest in Russia. But in reality, they’re closely linked. … international companies planning to invest in Russia or already doing business there now face more uncertainty. And six months from now, a ticking bomb wrapped in […]

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Bill on multi-million fines for slander on social networks may pass State Duma in fall – Isayev

Russian State Duma Building file photo

IZHEVSK. July 26 (Interfax) – The State Duma will debate bills introducing increased fines for the dissemination of illegal content and slander on social networking sites in the fall session, Andrei Isayev, first deputy head of the United Russia faction on legislative activities, said. “At the beginning of the fall session, they [the authors of legislative initiatives] will insist on […]

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Interfax: Defense finish reviewing evidence in Browder, Cherkasov dossier

File Photo of William Browder Seated at Table with Microphone as Woman Listens, with Image Watermark Saying Presented by Library of Congress with U.S. House of Representatives Seal, adapted from image at house.gov

MOSCOW. July 22 (Interfax) – The materials concerning Hermitage Capital Management co-founder William Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov were sent for approval to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the defense lawyer Alexander Antipov said on Thursday. “The defense finished reviewing the case files, currently, the dossier has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office but I don’t think […]

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Muscovites Hesitant to Protest Housing Demolition Scheme, Poll Finds

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 24, 2017) Only one-third of Muscovites who voted against a controversial housing demolition program would participate in protests against the scheme, according to a poll published by independent pollster the Levada Center. The poll, conducted at the request of the RBC news outlet, revealed that 34 percent of those living in apartment blocks who […]

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Russian government extends counter-sanctions till end of 2018

EU Map

MOSCOW. July 5 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a resolution extending the ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food, the governmental website said in a report on Wednesday. “The ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from the United States, EU member countries, […]

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Bondholder’s Dream Beckons as ‘Japanification’ Sweeps Russia

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – June 28, 2017 – Anna Andrianova) From the bondholder’s perspective, Russia has a lot in common with Japan and Italy. That’s a good thing, mostly. An aging population more prone to saving, combined with a “strongly conservative” economy, offer the best mix for fixed-income investors, according to Renaissance Capital. While poor demographics will haunt Russia’s growth […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the bureau of the Russian Engineering Union and the League for Assisting Defence Enterprises of Russia

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

(Kremlin.ru – June 27, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the bureau of the Russian Engineering Union and the League for Assisting Defence Enterprises of Russia. During a meeting on the development of machine building and the military industrial complex at the Kalashnikov Concern. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to welcome […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members

Russia Map

(Kremlin.ru – June 22, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members on measures to protect the rights of people involved in shared-equity construction projects and on defining the legal status of self-employed individuals. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we are here to discuss several issues. I would like to start with several matters that […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian entrepreneurs wish you’d stop worrying about Putin and start thinking about them” – Washington Post/ David Filipov

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

“… With European governments grappling over whether and how Russian hackers might be attacking their electoral systems, and Washington torn asunder over the question of possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of President Trump’s campaign and administration, the forum presented journalists with a chance to go face to face with Moscow’s principal players. …”

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RUSSIALINK: “Igor Shuvalov: Future of Russia Lies in Consolidation and Progress” – Valdai/ Igor Shuvalov

Igor Shuvalov file photo

“The wealth of Russia is based not only on securing the needs of the domestic market, but primarily on the openness, Igor Shuvalov told journalists at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. …”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with RDIF International Advisory Board members and investment community representatives

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

(Kremlin.ru – June 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with members of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) International Advisory Board and representatives of the international investment community. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon friends, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for coming to Russia and meeting together in St Petersburg again. I must say that many […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Companies To Talk Business With Putin In St. Petersburg” – Forbes/ Nabi Abdullaev

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“After several years of low attendance, during which the Obama administration actively discouraged US businesses from participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s largest international business gala, this year sees the return of American companies in sufficient numbers to run a separate U.S.-Russia roundtable for the first time in the forum’s history. …”

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NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Navigating the Complexities of Doing Business in Russia” – Harvard Business Review/ Mark McNamee

Men Sitting Around Long Oval Boardroom Table, File Photo of FIFA Officials Meeting with Vladmir Putin

… Most firms we work with feel a sense of powerlessness to handle the changing conditions in Russia. But  … there are ways that they can manage the uncertainty. … First, companies should pinpoint exactly what elements of their operations are most vulnerable to abrupt changes in foreign policy relations. … [and] think through the types of political and macroeconomic […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov

Boris Titov file photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 26, 2017) Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov presented his annual report to the President. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Titov. Have you brought your annual report? Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov: Yes, Mr President. Time flies. We are completing the first five-year period in our work. Five years ago, you made a […]

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NEWSLINK: “2017 Global 2000: These Are The Largest Companies In Russia” – Forbes

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

“… Aside from boasting hefty ownership stakes from the Russian government, Gazprom and Sberbank are also the number-one and -two companies in country. Gazprom, which holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves ranked #40 on the overall Global 2000, up from #53 in 2016. The jump in ranking came in part because of the company’s profit, which surged from $4.9 […]

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Thousands Protest In Moscow Against Plan To Raze Soviet-Era Housing

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – May 14, 2017 – ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. Article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-moscow-protests-demolition-krushchev-era-housing/28487244.html) MOSCOW — Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Moscow to protest the proposed demolitions of Soviet-era housing blocks in the Russian capital. The May 14 protest, held on a wide central Moscow street named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, marked […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite Sanctions, Russia’s Oil Industry Powers On” – Wall Street Journal/ Bradley Olson, Jay Solomon

Oil Well file photo

“Exxon Mobil … is suffering from sanctions on Russia. The same can’t be said for other big Western energy companies, or for Russia’s oil production. … sanctions, put in place by the U.S. and European Union in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, were meant to limit Russia’s pursuit of new technology for extracting more crude oil […]

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NEWSLINK: “ExxonMobil Just Challenged Trump to Get Serious With Russia Policy” – Fortune/ Richard Nephew, Colin Rowat

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“Earlier this month, news leaked that ExxonMobil was pushing the Treasury Department to grant it a sanctions waiver, which would allow the company to resume its joint venture Black Sea drilling operations with Russian oil giant Rosneft. The Treasury Department has since denied the waiver application, as waivers are granted for humanitarian and policy reasons, not for business reasons—which was […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why does ExxonMobil need Russia’s Arctic region? Even though the price of extracting oil in the Arctic is very expensive, ExxonMobil still wants to strengthen its position in the Russian market.”

Arctic Map

“The U.S. Government will not give the green light to oil major ExxonMobil Corporation and other American companies that seek to drill in areas covered by U.S. sanctions against Russia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on April 21. …”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Medvedev:] Government report on its performance in 2016. (transcript continued)

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – April 19, 2017) State Duma of the Federal Assembly, Moscow Excerpts from the transcript: Dmitry Medvedev: Already in the fourth quarter of 2016, the economy showed a small increase of 0.3 percent. As of late 2016, we had a major slowdown in the decline of GDP compared to a fall of almost 3 percent in 2015. Such figures […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] State Council Presidium meeting on national consumer rights protection system

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – April 18, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council Presidium meeting on the national consumer rights protection system. At a State Council Presidium meeting on national consumer rights protection system. Meeting participants discussed the effectiveness of the national consumer rights protection system and the state consumer rights protection strategy to 2030. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, […]

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Usmanov denies Navalny’s allegation of illegal transfer of mansion, land to SotsGosProyekt Foundation

Alisher Usmanov file photo

MOSCOW. April 12 (Interfax) – USM Holdings founder Alisher Usmanov says he transferred a plot of land and a mansion to the SotsGosProyekt Foundation in exchange for another plot of land for his sister. “My sister, Gulbakhor Burkhanova, […] wanted to live near me after the death of our parents. […] [Foundation head Ilya] Yeliseyev told me about Foundation projects […]

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Trump Lacks Room to Move on Sanctions on Russia, Economists Say

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – April 3, 2017) What a difference three months can make. Donald Trump dropped enough hints during the campaign and in the run-up to his inauguration as U.S. president to turn most economists into believers in an imminent easing of sanctions imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. But as scandals […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s March manufacturing PMI continues its strongest expansion since 2011” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russian manufacturing continues its strongest expansion since 2011 in March with the Markit PMI score of 52.4, almost the same as the previous month’s 52.5, while positive sentiment amongst Russian manufacturers reached a 22-month high. …”

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Russia Can Wait for $70 Oil Before Re-Entering Arctic Waters

Arctic Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Dina Khrennikova – March 29, 2017) Russia can wait for a sustained recovery in oil prices before drilling again in Arctic waters, relying for now on less costly regions even as rival producer Norway accelerates development of its northerly fields. “We estimate production costs for the Russian Arctic offshore in the range of $70 […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting on Arctic region’s comprehensive development

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

(Kremlin.ru – March 29, 2017) In the course of his trip to Alexandra Land in the Franz Josef Archipelago Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the comprehensive development of the Arctic region. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Sergei Donskoy, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Special Presidential Representative for Nature Protection, the Environment, and Transport […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Oil is the cause of Russia’s outsized corruption problem” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“#Russia was wracked by protests over the weekend when an estimated 60,000 people took to the street in more than 80 cities large and small to decry rampant corruption. Russia does have an outsized corruption problem and its #oil wealth is to blame.  … the Russian government has identified corruption as probably the biggest drag on growth and has launched a […]

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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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