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

cash-register

(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

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(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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Open economy should be created in Russia – Putin

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

ST. PETERSBURG. April 28 (Interfax) – Raising private investment for different economic sectors, including the defense industry, is one of the key paths for the development of the Russian economy in general, President Vladimir Putin has said. “Raising private investment is one of the general paths of economic development as a whole. It is one of the main points that […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: Here’s How Much Russian Stock Values Have Eroded Since Sanctions

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

For Russia investors, timing was everything.  Those who bought on the bad news of last summer were hit with more bad news come the end of summer when the U.S. sanctioned Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil. Then the Russian Central Bank went into panic mode and raised interest rates to save the ruble. The market sensed that the bank was getting […]

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NEWSLINK AFP: Russia’s vast Arctic gas project aims to avoid Ukraine deep freeze

Arctic Map

Spread across the frozen whiteness of the Russian Arctic, the ambitious $27 billion Yamal gas megaproject aims to defy both the extreme temperatures and the Ukraine crisis impacting its funding. Some 2,500 kilometres (1,600 miles) northeast of Moscow, the Yamal site — a joint venture by Russia’s Novatek, France’s Total and China’s CNPC — is eventually meant be one of […]

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NEWSLINK CNBC: Why Russia is more confident: Finance Minister

Anton Siluanov file photo

Russia’s economy has been through a series of seismic shocks in the past year – but there are increasing reasons to be optimistic as the amount of money being pulled out of the country slows, according to the country’s Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov.

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“Croneyburger please, easy on the austerity”: Inside Russia’s fast-food farce

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

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nick Allen in Berlin – April 13, 2015) The trademark meat dish could perhaps be called “The director’s cut”: Two prolific Russian film directors recently sought a $19mn state credit from President Vladimir Putin to launch an unlikely new national fast-food chain as a counterweight to McDonald’s and other foreign operators. And they got […]

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Russian store assistants smiling more, says customer service report

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – April 7, 2015) Russia has come 15th out of 69 countries for the friendliness of its customer service, according to data from the Smiling Report, an annual evaluation of how warmly shoppers are greeted around the world. Analysts and industry insiders say that Russia’s approach to customer service has drastically changed in […]

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Sexism in Russia: On the retreat but still a long way to go

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

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – April 4, 2015) There is a prevalent idea in Russian society that men and women should behave according to some unwritten standards. However, it is the country’s women that are affected much more by discrimination. What kinds of problems does this create in daily life and how long is […]

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Is There a Feud Over a New Tsar in the Kremlin?

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald N. Jensen – April 1, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/analysis/politics/2217-is-there-a-feud-over-a-new-tsar-in-the-kremlin) Vladimir Putin’s ten-day absence from the public eye has become the most discussed event in Russia this past month, and also highlights the country’s crisis of governance. According to Donald Jensen, resident fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, keeping the increasingly […]

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Not all EU-Russia trade disputes are about politics

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Iana Dreyer in Brussels – April 2, 2015) It looks like part of the trade war, but it isn’t. The World Trade Organization is about to set up its fourth dispute settlement panel in two years between Brussels and Moscow. One could mistake this as a sign of the growing trade tensions amid the […]

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Russian Souvenirs Make Up to 500% Profit Online Despite Political Faceoff

Russia Nesting Dolls file photo, adapted from image wiesbaden.army.mil with photo credit Anemone Rueger

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – March 30, 2015) Russia’s relations with the West may have reached lows unparalleled since the Cold War, but the trend for kitschy Russian and Soviet souvenirs abroad appears to be as popular as ever, bringing vendors a pretty penny. Selling souvenirs on online marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy can yield a […]

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Russians Increasingly Believe State Planning Better Than Market Economy

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 27, 2015) Russians increasingly believe in an economic system founded on government planning rather than the free market, a poll by the independent Levada Center showed. Fifty-five percent of respondents said that a country’s economic system should be based on “government planning and allocation,” the pollster said in a report this week. On the other […]

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NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Ukraine’s latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[“Ukraine’s latest challenge: oligarchs with private armies; Gov. Igor Kolomoisky, who was given political power and the right to create a private army last year, last week used that power to seize the state oil company’s headquarters in Kiev” – Christian Science Monitor –  Fred Weir – March 25, 2015] The Christian Science Monitor reports on developments in Ukraine surrounding billionaire […]

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Moscow Times: Internal Rifts in Ukraine Play in Russia’s Favor – Analysts

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 25, 2015) When the incoming Ukrainian government faced the threat of sweeping separatism in the country’s eastern regions one year ago, pugnacious billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky was the only oligarch to help. As other tycoons hovered on the fence, unsure of how the ongoing fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in the country’s […]

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Ukraine’s Catch 22 over its oligarch class

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Mark Adomanis in Philadelphia – March 25, 2015) As the Soviet Union collapsed in both Russia and Ukraine, small groups of extremely clever and even more ruthless men “privatized” (or if you prefer less exalted language “stole”) all of the prize industrial assets. Virtually overnight, these formerly mid-ranking bureaucrats and functionaries became billionaires, some […]

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Russia Rebounds, Despite Sanctions

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Matthew A. Winkler – March 20, 2015) Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News, writes about markets. [Charts here bloombergview.com/articles/2015-03-20/russia-rebounds-despite-sanctions] Sanctions meant to punish Russia for snatching Crimea from Ukraine one year ago were supposed to hurt Russian business. And they did. Russian stocks, bonds and commodities had the worst performance in 2014 of those in […]

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