World Bank: Russia Can Withstand Oil Price Volatility In 2019

World Bank Building

(Oilprice.com – Julianne Geiger – December 4, 2018) Russia is well-positioned to withstand external shocks, The World Bank said today in its most recent version of Russia Economic Report, cited by TASS. Oil prices are expected to average $71 per barrel over the next three years, the report also said, with the caveat that there is still “considerable uncertainty” to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Every fifth Russian worker earns less than $250 per month” – bne Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Every fifth Russian worker earns less than RUB15,000 ($250) per month, according to … a study by the RIA Rating agency [cited by] … RIA Novosti …. Over 33% of people living in 22 regions earn less than this amount, according to the survey. [The worst were] Dagestan … (46%) … [and the] Karachay-Cherkess Republic (44%). In six regions, two […]

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RUSSIALINK: “PMI in Russian manufacturing climbs to 52.6 in Nov, highest since July 2017 – IHS Markit” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. Dec 3 (Interfax) – The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Russia’s manufacturing sector rose to 52.6 points in November from 51.3 points in October, IHS Markit research shows. The November PMI points to the biggest improvement in the business situation in Russia’s manufacturing sector since July 2017. Index readings above 50.0 points indicate growth in business activity, while those […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Kudrin renews push for tough policy talk” – Bear Market Brief

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin, went on record with RBK ahead of today’s ‘Russia Calling’ economic forum, asserting that in the last decade Russia has experienced economic stagnation unseen since the Second World War. He appears to be continuing his search for a public, honest discussion of foreign policy. … … annualized GDP growth at 1% over the last ten years … predat[ing] […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Russia Calling! Investment Forum (excerpt/with Q&A)” – KremlinRu

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – November 28, 2018) [Full text en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/59216] Vladimir Putin took part in the annual Russia Calling! Investment Forum hosted by VTB Capital. The plenary session is entitled “Building Partnerships. Bridging Differences.” Russia Calling! Forum is a leading platform for drawing capital to the Russian economy, improving the investment climate and promoting the country’s international economic and business ties. President […]

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Russians Say Putin Responsible for Problems in Their Country, Levada Center Poll Says

Putin Descending a Staircase

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 22, 2018) Sixty-one percent of Russians polled by the Levada Center say that Vladimir Putin is responsible for the problems Russia now faces, up from 55 percent a year ago and the highest figure since such questions began to be asked a decade ago in the wake of the 2008 economic […]

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One-Fifth Of Russians Live In Poverty, 36 Percent In ‘Risk Zone,’ Study Finds

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Nov. 21, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/study-22-percent-of-russians-live-in-poverty-36-percent-in-risk-zone-/29613059.html) More than one-fifth of the Russian population now lives in poverty, according to a new study by a research institute with ties to the Kremlin. The November 21 report by the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration says […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The tenth city: Rostov-on-Don; We move to Russia in our series on Europe’s second-tier cities; Ancient trading traditions have survived Bolshevism and war” – The Economist

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… [Rostov-on-Don has] roots as a trading hub …. Russia’s gdp growth is slow at around 1.5% … [yet] the Rostov region is … at twice that … powered by booming farming, retooled manufacturing and an active citizenry. … [G]eography, tradition and mild weather make[] Rostov among Russia’s most entrepreneurial cities. … [where] 44% of the workforce is employed in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia, wary of U.S. sanctions, puts saving before growth” – Reuters/Darya Korsunskaya

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“Russia’s drive to fill state coffers to give itself a $200 billion buffer against threats like new U.S. sanctions … will come at the expense of economic growth. … With oil prices high, Russia has been steadily siphoning revenues from its major export into the National Wealth Fund (NWF). It has also raised oil industry taxes, hiked value-added tax and […]

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Let Them East Cheese: Russian Plant Thrives Amid Sanctions

Russia Map

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Dmitry Lyubimov, Tony Wesolowsky – Oct. 22, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/let-them-east-cheese-russian-plant-thrives-amid-sanctions-/29557433.html) Sergei Chernych proudly points to the gleaming Western-made stainless-steel machinery at his cheese factory in Mari El, a small republic in Russia’s Volga region. Production at the plant in Sernur, some 90 kilometers east of the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Won’t Have to Look Far for Darkest View of Russian Economy, Kudrin Says” – Moscow Times

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 24, 2018) From his new perch atop a government agency that monitors the budget, one of the few people President Vladimir Putin has publicly called a friend has some blunt words about what’s in store for Russia’s economy. Alexei Kudrin, the head of the Audit Chamber since May, warned in an interview that a […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Inflation Stalking Russia Adds to ‘Hopelessness’ Among Consumers” – Bloomberg/ Anna Andrianova, Evgenia Pismennaya, Zoya Shilova

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“The mood among Russian consumers is souring just as inflation increasingly eats into their purchasing power. Faster price growth and an unsteady ruble are hurting household finances, contributing last quarter to the biggest plunge in consumer confidence since 2015. … mirror[ing] a broader loss of momentum in the economy … slow to rebound despite higher oil prices. … Fed up […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Climbs in Global Competitiveness Index” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 17, 2018) The Russian economy has climbed two spots in an annual rating of the world’s most competitive economies published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Russia returned to a growth rate of 1.5 percent in 2017 after two years of decline and is projected to grow a further 1.7 percent this year and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “IMF Executive Board Concludes 2018 Article IV Consultation with the Russian Federation”

File Photo of IMF Acronym on Wall Below Row of Circular Lights, adapted from image at state.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

(International Monetary Fund (IMF) – Sept. 12, 2018) IMF Executive Board Concludes 2018 Article IV Consultation with the Russian Federation [Full staff report: imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2018/09/12/Russian-Federation-2018-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-46226] [Vedomosti: IMF supports Russia’s pension reforms. МВФ поддержал повышение пенсионного возраста в России vedomosti.ru/economics/news/2018/09/13/780763-mvf ] “… parametric pension reform, including raising the statutory retirement age and limiting early retirement, remains critical for intergenerational equity …. While […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Why Putin Is Losing Popular Support” – Carnegie Moscow/ Denis Volkov/ Levada Center

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

“The approval ratings of Russia’s leaders and its institutions have been declining for more than three years. The erosion of popular support has been accelerated, rather than caused, by the unveiling of the government’s pension reform plan, and Russians are increasingly concerned by the state of not only their pensions but also their country’s foreign policy and its economy. …”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Levada poll: Russians’ worries close to home” – Bear Market Brief/BMD Russia

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“… [poll numbers indicate that] Russians are concerned about rising prices (72%), poverty (52%), and unemployment (48%). … the highest August figures since 2013. … a Bank of Russia survey finds … ordinary Russians are expecting higher inflation …. lean years have rendered adventures abroad relatively less important to Russians. … inflationary expectations raise the specter of a key rate […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Wages in Russia’s regions are well behind the national average” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Wages are starting to grow again …. However … the recovery is clearly very mixed.  … mega-cities … Moscow and St Petersburg … had incomes … 51% and 117% more than the average national wage of RUB42,640 ($625) per month … according to Rosstat … [but] two-thirds of Russian regions have incomes well below that level. In general the poorest […]

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Russian Power Under Putin: Up and Down and Flatline

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

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Andrew Kuchins – August 22, 2018 – russiamatters.org/analysis/russian-power-under-putin-and-down-and-flatline) Andrew Kuchins is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, Georgetown University. This op-ed is part of a new debate from Russia Matters and is written in response to “Measuring National Power: Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Decline?” by Simon Saradzhyan and Nabi Abdullaev. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s financial authorities are putting the economy on an ‘economic war’ footing as sanctions bite” – bne Intellinews/Vadim Dumes/Ben Aris

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“The sanctions[-]based assault on Russia by the U.S. and its expanding sanctions regime is starting to take its toll as the Russian government and financial authorities [are scrambling] to manage the damage … affecting everything from corporate profits to foreign currency reserves. Earlier this month … The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said it will stop its regular foreign currency purchases […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Achilles heel: Putin still falling short on master plan for aging oil economy” CNBC/Ashleigh Garrison, Kelly Song

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has displayed geopolitical intelligence and military strength, but he falls short when it comes to mastering the Russian economy. The Russian market is still largely dependent on rising oil prices and the lack of innovation is a major economic weakness. GDP is growing, but slowly, and critical foreign investment remains low due to Putin’s provocations and […]

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Working-Age Russians Now More Pessimistic about Future than Pensioners, Levada Poll Finds

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 17, 2018) The continuing stagnation or worse of the Russian economy has “upended the pyramid of social optimism” in Russia, Mikhail Sergeyev says. Instead of older people being the most pessimistic about the future of their country as is typically the case, now working age Russians are. This finding of the […]

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Pension Fight Highlights Russia’s Fundamental Problem – Its Government, Gontmakher Says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 10, 2018) The fight over Moscow’s proposal to raise the pension age highlights the fact that Russia’s “main problem is a state [which] doesn’t fulfill its functions of serving” the people. Instead, it acts like an enormous corporation that collects rents and doesn’t distribute them in an effective way, economist Yevgeny […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin sees ‘positive trends’ in Russian economy” – AFP

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“… Wages in Russia have fallen for four consecutive years as the Russian economy reeled from a crash in oil prices in 2014, along with international sanctions imposed over … Ukraine.  Putin’s approval ratings slumped by a record 14 percentage points according to a state pollster following a government proposal to raise the state pension age to 65 for men […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In World Cup’s Shadow, Layoffs and Anger at Russian Factory” – AP/New York Times

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

“[At] Volgograd’s … Red October steelworks … many … were temporarily laid off because of the World Cup. … aggravat[ing] troubles at the struggling factory, prompting angry workers to plan a protest timed for the … World Cup …. Authorities are apparently trying to head off trouble through pressure and promises of cash. Welcome to the daily realities of … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Authorities begin process of raising retirement age” – Bear Market Brief E-Mail Newsletter

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“… the [Russian] government may submit a draft bill to the Duma to raise the retirement age. … suggest[ing] the strictest variant: 65 years for men, 63 years for women. … likely follow[ing] MinFin’s proposal of increasing the retirement age by one year annually. …  Several key decisions … What to do with those who qualify for early retirement … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “CCW Russia Brief Issue 2: Playing it Safe: Continuity Through the ‘New’ May Decrees and ‘New’ Government” – Oxford University/Changing Character of War Centre (CCW)/Richard Connolly

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“Russia’s recovery from the recession of 2015-16 suffered an unexpected setback at the end of 2017. After registering modest but uninterrupted growth from the end of 2016 to the middle of last year, and despite rising oil prices, seasonally adjusted GDP fell in the final quarter of 2017, according to Rosstat data, due to an unexpected decline in fixed investment […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government gets a new programme and people” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“… Russia’s petro-driven economic model was already clearly broken in 2013 when GDP growth dropped to zero at a time when oil prices were still over $100 per barrel. … the geopolitical showdown over first the fate of Ukraine and then the tussle in Syria meant that Putin postponed more prosperity as he redirected every spare penny into modernising Russia’s […]

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Putin vs. Pensions: Will His Reelection Finally Free Him To Tackle Looming Crisis?

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – May 16, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-vs-pensions-will-his-reelection-finally-free-him-to-tackle-looming-crisis-/29229857.html) It’s been the third rail of Russian politics for years, if not decades, but now an increasingly fragile economy appears to have forced the Kremlin to finally reckon with the country’s pension crisis. Russia’s pension system — […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Most Russians Say They Are Unaffected and ‘Unworried’ by Western Sanctions – Poll” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 14, 2018) The majority of Russians surveyed by the independent Levada Center say they have not been negatively affected by Western sanctions, despite feeling increasingly isolated from the international community. Russia has been targeted by several waves of political and economic sanctions following its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and support […]

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Russians Are Most Unhappy With Putin Over Wealth Inequality – Poll

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 7, 2018) Russians are most unhappy with President Vladimir Putin over the unequal distribution of wealth in the country, according to the latest independent Levada Center poll. Putin, 65, officially assumes office for his fourth term Monday and reportedly plans to kick-start economic growth with a $162 billion increase in spending on healthcare, education […]

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Russians Not Turning on Kremlin Even as Latest US Sanctions Bite

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(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – April 30, 2018) The latest U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia earlier this month targeting two dozen Kremlin insiders and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and their companies are proving more painful than had been expected, say analysts. But they’re doing nothing at this stage in turning ordinary Russians against the Kremlin […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANCRIPT: “Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with the Vesti v Subbotu (News on Saturday) programme” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – April 28, 2018) The Prime Minister answered the questions of Sergei Brilyov, the programme’s host. Dmitry Medvedev: In the past six years, the Government has worked in unprecedented conditions, which include unfavourable changes in the global economy and on the hydrocarbons market, as well as sanctions, starting with those imposed on Russia in 2014. All of this taken […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian pension system’s 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted” – Meduza

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“Russia’s Labor Ministry has amended the Pension Fund’s 2018 budget to reflect a deficit that’s more than twice as high as predicted, rising from 106.6 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) to 256.8 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). The Pension Fund is expected to earn just 66.7 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), while spending 83.5 billion rubles ($1.3 billion). Spokespeople for the Pension Fund […]

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Kudrin sees budget maneuver adding 0.5%-1% to Russian GDP growth

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 24 (Interfax) – The so-called budget maneuver, which the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) sees as one of the main conditions for achieving sustainable economic growth and a tangible improvement in Russians’ living standards, will make it possible to achieve additional annual economic growth of 0.5% to 1%, CSR chairman and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in […]

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Russians Primarily Concerned With Rising Prices – Poll

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 24, 2018) Rising prices remain the primary concern among Russians polled by the independent Levada Center, followed by poverty and unemployment. While Russia’s economy grew 1.5 percent last year after two years of recession, it fell short of a government target of 2 percent. In March, one month before U.S. sanctions were imposed, real […]

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Ten Signs Putin and His Russia have Serious Problems

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2018) Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Trade With the West Surges Even as Sanctions Mount; Last year’s increase, three years after penalties tied to annexation of Crimea, shows limits of curbs in longer term” – Wall Street Journal/Andrea Thomas, James Marson, Stefan Lange

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

” …. The U.S. and Europe’s largest nations, including France and Germany, saw exports to and imports from Russia skyrocket in 2017 after three years of decline. … at their highest levels since 2014, the year Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea …. The turnaround could be short-lived. … [After] Washington … unveiled fresh sanctions … in the latest U.S. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Market Fundamentalism’ Tested as New Economic Storm Hits Russia” – Bloomberg

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“Russia is gambling that a policy mix born amid its confrontation with the West four years ago is good enough to carry it through an even worse standoff …. allowing its ruble to trade freely  …. that flexible currency provides support for the Russian economy as … Putin faces the fallout of the most punitive U.S. penalties yet and … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No longer safe assets: Invest in Russia at your own risk after U.S. sanctions, strategist says” – CNBC/Natasha Turak

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russian assets, in recovery mode following a deep recession after the global oil price collapse in 2015, have been ravaged since Friday over fears of U.S. sanctions.  Popular among many emerging market investors for the past year, this progress now appears on the brink of becoming undone as market analysts call for a re-evaluation of Russia’s risk pricing. * * […]

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Ruble Falls Further, Russian Officials Seek To Calm Nerves

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(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 10, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-ruble-continues-fall-officials-seek-to-calm-nerves/29156379.html) The Russian ruble is falling for a second straight day following the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, while the Central Bank chief and other officials are seeking to calm investors in the wake of a big sell-off in shares of Russian companies […]

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‘No Doubt’ Russia Can Weather U.S. Sanctions, Economic Development Minister Says

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 10, 2018) Russia’s Economic Development Minister has promised that the country will be able to withstand losses suffered since the latest round of U.S. sanctions triggered sell-offs. The ruble sank to its lowest exchange rate against the U.S. dollar and euro since December 2016 on the second day of losses. Stocks in major Russian […]

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Interfax: Kudrin notes stability of Russian financial market Tuesday after Monday’s crash

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – The head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the situation on the Moscow Exchange after Monday’s crash is stable. “Today’s opening of the exchange, if nothing has changed in the last few minutes, shows that the exchange is stable. Stock market indexes are stable so far,” Kudrin said […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Voters Left Guessing at Putin’s Economic Plan” – Reuters

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… Putin will enter Sunday’s election with little agreement among his top policymakers on an economic strategy for his next term …. Many Russians … prospered … [when] high oil prices contribut[ed] to bumper growth rates before … 2008 …. But the economy sank into recession after Western … sanctions … [over] Ukraine. A collapse in oil prices and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia explained in 10 charts” – BBC/ Alex Murray, Tom Housden, Anastasia Napalkova, Sandra Rodriguez Chillida, Joy Roxas, Zoe Bartholomew

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

“1. Fewer people are poor … 2. But wage growth has stalled recently … 3. More people have a car, and there are more microwaves than households … 4. Russians fell in love with Ikea … 5. And champagne … There’s some dispute over how much Russians drink. … 6. … the internet took off … 7. But circuses are […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Another Six Years of Putin Spells for Russia’s Economy; No level of debt-fueled spending can overcome the stagnation caused by the state’s continued domination of the economy” – Eurasianet/David Szakonyi

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“… Officials are taking no chances to ensure turnout isn’t embarrassingly low, however, mobilizing students and workers, plastering the regions with pro-Putin materials, and seemingly handpicking the other candidates allowed to run. There are many consequences to holding stage-managed elections. Clearly they are a violation of basic political rights. … [and] the Russian presidential campaign offers nearly zero discussions of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How realistic are Putin’s promises to massively increase social spending?” – bne Intellinews/Vadim Dumesh, Ben Aris

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“The militarism of … Putin’s … state of the nation speech on March 1 has overshadowed the economic part … set[ting] out the Kremlin’s development strategy … remain[ing] merely declarative and if anything show[ing] the lack of consensus between the Kremlin, government and policy advisers … [with]the Kremlin … attempting to fudge policy to keep all the various factions – […]

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Interfax: Putin: import substitution in Russia is temporary phenomenon

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

SAMARA. March 7 (Interfax) – Import substitution in Russia is a temporary phenomenon; a temporary tool to balance out the current situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The idea of import substitution is not, in and of itself, universal and is not what we should be aiming for in the long run; import substitution mustn’t disrupt competition. This is an […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin Takes His Campaign to Leading Industrial Town” – AP

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

“… Putin … took his campaign to one of Russia’s leading industrial companies, vowing to bolster high-tech industries and improve living standards. … travel[ing] to … the Urals to visit Uralvagonzavod, a huge factory producing … battle tanks … and railroad cars. … seek[ing] to shore up his support base before the March 18 presidential election. * * * The Uralvagonzavod […]

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Russia Lacks Basic Preconditions for Democracy, Inozemtsev Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 27, 2018) This week, as Russia enters yet another pseudo-electoral campaign, two Moscow newspapers, Yezhednevny zhurnal and Novyye izvestiya have taken the highly unusual step of publishing an October 2015 address by Vladislav Inozemtsev on why Russia has never been, is not and won’t likely ever become a democracy. The speech, […]

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