Interview: Russia Seeks To ‘Capitalize On Opportunities’ In Libya

File Photo of Ancient Roman Arch in Libya Framing Minaret and Palm Trees, adapted from image at cia.gov

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Tony Wesolowsky – April 10, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/interview-russia-seeks-to-capitalize-on-opportunities-in-libya/29873341.html) The situation is escalating in Libya, where more than 30 people have been killed since fighting broke out on April 4, when forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the internationally […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s New Gold Rush Could Shake Up the International Monetary System; Russia and China might be considering a gold-backed digital currency.” – Moscow Times/ Bruno Macaes

File Photo of Gold Bars with U.S. Government Engravings, adapted from image at fbi.govA

“Russia is buying … [a] lot of gold … quadrupl[ing] reserves [within a decade]. Gold buying last year exceeded mine supply for the first time … Russia is about to become a net importer …. Are the Russian authorities preparing for a renewed clash with the United States … attempting to reduce … vulnerability to … sanctions? Or do they […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Effective Military Spending Is Around $200 Billion” – Checkpoint Asia/Richard Connolly

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“Russia maintains armed forces of around a million … compared with … fewer than 200,000 in the UK. … [and] procures and maintains far larger volumes of equipment across the whole spectrum … including [ICBM’s], nuclear-powered submarines … state-of-the-art helicopters and fighter aircraft. * * * … PPP-based measures … yield a figure of closer to $200 billion …”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s New Shield From U.S. Sanctions: A Siberian Gold Mine; Sukhoi Log, widely seen as one of the world’s largest untapped gold deposits, could give Moscow a bulletproof currency backstop” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

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

“… Tests commissioned by the company last year and undertaken by Australia-based AMC Consultants, along with a scoping study conducted in 2018, determined that there are 63 million ounces of gold at Sukhoi Log, Polyus has told investors. While independent mining analysts haven’t confirmed that estimate on their own, many of them refer to Sukhoi Log as one of the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia faces sharp outflow of private investment; More than $67bn shifted out of the country’s economy last year” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“More private money left Russia in 2018 than … since the Crimean crisis and oil market rout of 2014 …. Over $67bn … according to the … central bank …. some … attributed to fears over … U.S. sanctions and threats of more actions from Washington …. [ING’s] Dmitry Dolgin … [indicated that when] Russia’s central bank suspended foreign exchange […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Push to Dump Dollar Proves Hard Sell With Russia Inc.” – Bloomberg/ Natasha Doff, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Annmarie Hordern, Andrey Biryukov, Anna Baraulina, Ilya Arkhipov, Yuliya Fedorinova

File Photo of Assorted U.S. Cash, adapted from image at tsa.gov

“Russia’s central bank dumped $101 billion last year in its biggest-ever shift away from the U.S. currency amid fears of new sanctions. But the Kremlin’s drive to wean the rest of the economy off the greenback has been slower going. Despite … Putin’s regular public exhortations to accelerate ‘de-dollarization,’ even the country’s state-owned companies are sticking to the currency. Shifting […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia to resume forex purchases after sanctions hiatus; Moscow will spend Rbs265.8bn between next Tuesday and early February” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s finance ministry said it is resuming foreign currency purchases on open markets after fears over U.S. sanctions saw it halt them last year to head off a slide in the rouble rate. … Rbs265.8bn … next Tuesday and February 6, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. … the first since the central bank … stopped them in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian inflation, growth to remain low in 2019 says World Bank” – bne Intellinews

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“Russian inflation is in focus for 2019 as prices began to rise at the end of 2018 and ended the year slightly above the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) target rate of 4%. … the World Bank says that inflation will remain low this year and growth will be 1.5%, the same as in 2018 …. The U.S. government has […]

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RUSSIALINK: “No rapid de-dollarization, national currency settlements pose certain risks – Kudrin” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 22 (Interfax) – There will be no rapid de-dollarization in settlements which, when conducted in other national currencies, including those of Eurasian Economic Union countries, pose certain currency risks, said Alexei Kudrin, head of the Russian Accounts Chamber. “I’m in favor of a company being able to choose [the currency of settlements], which would be in keeping with […]

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The Biggest Threat To Dollar Dominance

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(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – November 12, 2018) Russian oil exporters are pressuring Western commodity traders to pay for Russian crude in euros and not dollars as Washington prepares more sanctions for the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Moscow, Reuters reported last week, citing as many as seven industry sources. While it may have come as a surprise to the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Sanctions Give Russian Economy an Unintended Boost; For months, rising dollar-denominated oil prices, falling ruble have worked to Moscow’s benefit” – Wall Street Journal/ Avantika Chilkoti

Oil Well file photo

“U.S. sanctions have driven the price of oil and the ruble apart – leaving Russia with expensive crude and a cheaper currency … helping its economy. The price of oil, Russia’s main export, has risen almost 14% since mid-August. … largely because of the coming resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, choking off the supply of crude from that country. […]

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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… [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: “A thickening web; America’s escalating Russian sanctions; Despite Donald Trump, Russia is being hit harder and harder” – The Economist

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“… In August alone, America has slapped penalties on Russian shipping firms accused of trading oil with North Korea; imposed restrictions on the arms trade in connection with the poisoning of … Skripal …; and begun congressional hearings on … legislation designed to punish Russia for its interference in elections. Further Skripal-linked measures may follow in three months’ …. Markets […]

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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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“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: “Turkey Shifts Toward Russia as Sanctions Sour U.S. Relations; Foreign ministers slam Western sanctions, as Erdogan plans boycott of U.S. electronic goods” – Wall Street Journal/David Gauthier-Villars

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Erdogan … stepped up his attacks on the U.S. … Tuesday, calling for a boycott of Apple … iPhones and other U.S. electronic goods … his foreign minister joined his Russian counterpart … criticizing Western sanctions. Turkey, a longtime [NATO] ally, has been caught between the West and Russia. This week, officials in Ankara were leaning decidedly toward Moscow. […]

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Putin: Russia Looks To Get Free Of U.S. Dollar ‘Burden’ In Oil Trade

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 9, 2018) Russia is mulling over ways to ‘get free’ of the U.S. dollar burden in oil trade as part of a plan to boost its national economic sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Oil is traded in dollars on the exchange,” TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying. “Certainly, we are thinking about […]

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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“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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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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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “In Conversation with Dmitry Medvedev: Interview with five television channels” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – November 30, 2017) The Prime Minister answered questions from TV anchors Valery Fadeyev (Channel One), Sergei Brilyov (Rossiya), Irada Zeinalova (NTV), Igor Poletaev (RBC) and Mikhail Fishman (TV Rain). Excerpts from the transcript: Results of the Government’s performance in the outgoing year and the state of the economy Dmitry Medvedev: Today we can say that the economy has […]

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Lame-Duck Putinism

Putin at Desk

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org Brian Whitmore – September 1, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/lame-duck-putinism/28709290.html) An association of “patriotic entrepreneurs” is proposing that the Russian central bank issue a new 10,000 ruble banknote featuring Vladimir Putin’s likeness. Now you can read that a couple ways. The simplest, of course, is that it’s nothing more than […]

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Life After Putin?

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

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 29, 2017 – rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-life-after-putin/28703034.html) Is Vladimir Putin about to get his very own banknote? Could be. An association of entrepreneurs has recently proposed that the Russian central bank issue a commemorative 10,000-ruble note featuring Putin’s likeness. Now you can read this a couple ways. The simplest, […]

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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: “Russia has not touched its reserves funds this year, but it will. Russia’s gross international reserves have been growing.” – Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Thanks to higher than expected oil prices Russia has not had to touch its rainy day reserves funds so far this year to prop up budget spending. But the ministry of finance says it will have to dip into them in the second half of this year and expects to at least exhaust the $16.5bn National Reserve Fund. …” Click […]

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Fiscal rule already essentially in effect, might be formally introduced in 2018 – Belousov

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW. April 17 (Interfax) – The new fiscal rule that restricts Russian budget spending of additional oil and gas revenue is essentially already in effect, and it might be formally introduced in 2018, Kremlin aide Andrei Belousov said. “The fiscal rule comes down to cutting off the level of spending at an oil price of $40 per barrel. We negotiated […]

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Fixing Russia’s Growth for Economists Takes One Ruble at a Time

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Andre Tartar – April 9, 2017) The ruble’s “serious weakening,” as forecast by Russia’s Economy Ministry, may be seriously good for growth. While the authorities in Russia have wavered this year over the benefits and disadvantages to the economy of a strong exchange rate, analysts are coming down on the side of depreciation. A […]

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Half of Russia Still in Crisis Prepares for Worse to Come

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 20, 2017) The half of Russia’s economy that hasn’t got wind of a recovery is already hunkering down for the crisis to come. Once indispensable for the country’s prospects, consumption flat-lined well below zero throughout last year even as the broader economy defied gloom. From the ruble to industrial output and wages, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Rouble’s revival gives Russia an unexpected headache” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

It was a step that seemed unimaginable a year ago: the Russian authorities stepping in to stop the country’s currency from getting too strong. … The finance ministry said Putin himself had decided that the surplus oil revenue would not be used for ‘additional spending’ but would go towards buying foreign currencies to bolster the country’s depleted reserve funds. … […]

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De-dollarization of economy, banking system proceeding at full speed, to continue – Central Bank

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MOSCOW. Jan 24 (Interfax) – De-dollarization of the #Russian economy and #banking system is proceeding at full speed given the preferences of the public and companies and this process will continue, the head of the Central Bank of #Russia’s research and forecasting department Alexander #Morozov said at a roundtable in the State #Duma. “De-dollarization in the economy is proceeding at […]

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Russia Locks In on What’s Wrong With Ruble During Oil Frenzy

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – January 23, 2017) Untethering the #ruble helped #Russia ride out the biggest #oil downturn in a generation. But it’s left the world’s biggest energy exporter vulnerable to greater volatility in crude prices as #OPEC pushes output cuts. To address that, the Bank of Russia is preparing to wade back into the currency market […]

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Dollar Falls to Under 60 Rubles for the First Time Since July 2015

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 5, 2017) As most Russians enjoy a week-long holiday vacation, the country’s ailing currency is also having a happy new year. Today, during trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange, the U.S. Dollar’s value fell to less than 60 rubles for the first time since 2015, the RBC newspaper reported. At 2:19 p.m. Moscow time, […]

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Cheapest Labor Since Tsars Ruled Russia a Draw for Samsung, Ikea

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Ilya Khrennikov – November 16, 2016) Made in Russia and coming soon to a store shelf near you: washing machines, chewing gum and possibly much else. A combination of the country’s worst currency crisis since 1998 and an unprecedented slide in real wages for most of the past two years has resulted in salaries […]

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NEWSLINK Business New Europe: “Russian Markets Hit Record High On Trump Optimism”

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“Russia’s ruble denominated Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange (MICEX) index set a new all time high of 2061.68 on November 10 on the bounce back that followed the election of Donald Trump as US president. Trump is seen as good news for Russia that is fuelling hopes of a de-escalation in tensions between the countries. The previous MICEX high was set […]

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Russia’s Economy at Risk of Delayed Recovery After Crimea Flareup

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andre Tartar, Anna Andrianova – August 28, 2016) The recent flare up over Crimea may have just delayed Russia’s economic recovery. After President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of plotting terrorist attacks on the Black Sea peninsula this month, the chance that Western countries will scrap economic sanctions against Russia has declined, according to a Bloomberg survey […]

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Ukraine’s Economy Plummeted By Nearly 10 Percent In 2015

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – March 22, 2016) Ukraine’s battered economy shrank by 9.9 percent in 2015 due to implosions in the financial sector and consumer demand, the state statistics service reported on March 21. The stunning fall last year followed a drop of nearly 7 percent in 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea and Ukraine’s war with Russia-backed separatists broke […]

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As Ruble Nosedives, Russians Are Priced Out Of Live-Saving Western Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – February 1, 2016) As the ruble continues its catastrophic tumble, hitting another historic low last month, the pain is being felt keenly across Russia. Among those worst hit are patients in need of urgent surgery abroad or other life-saving treatment billed in foreign currencies. “It all started with a bad cough and a […]

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RBTH: Investors could benefit from Russia’s economic turmoil

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

As the Russian economy hits hard times, with business incomes falling, government spending facing cuts and the ruble losing value, RBTH spoke to Sergei Katyrin, president of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to find out how foreign companies are enduring the current “perfect storm” for business. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ILYA KROL, RBTH – January 28, […]

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Facing Oil Price Plunge, Russia Considers Fire Sale of State Companies

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – January 22, 2016) Russian officials are touting a new wave of privatization to fill the hole in the government’s finances caused by the slumping oil price. With the cost of crude falling toward $30 per barrel early in the year, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announced that 1 trillion rubles ($12.5 billion) could […]

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Russian Ruble Crashes to 77 Per Dollar Amid Oil Price Slump

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 13, 2016) The Russian ruble fell to 77 against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday for the first time since December 2014 as global prices for oil continue to slide, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. As of Tuesday morning, the Russian currency had slipped to 77.01 against the U.S. dollar and 83.80 against the […]

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Russian Economy Killers: Oil and Sanctions

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(Voice of America – Bernard Shusman – January 6, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a bad report card, even a failing grade, for his handling of the economic crisis in his country, according to 27 percent of analysts who participated in a major survey conducted by Bloomberg Business. These are hard times in Russia, with the collapse in oil […]

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Eight Shades of Crisis – Russia’s Year of Economic Nightmares

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – December 26, 2015) [Charts here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/8-shades-of-crisis—russias-year-of-economic-nightmares/553703.html] Imagine Russia as a combustion engine. Oil and gas pumped from its vast territories wash through the economy as taxes, government spending and investment. Foreign currency from oil and gas sales is used to fund imported equipment and products on shop shelves. Cash from the energy […]

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RBTH: Ruble rollercoaster: How Russia was shortchanged in 2015

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National currency lost half its value in the space of a year (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – December 23, 2015) The ruble has lost half its value in a span of just over a year. Since November 2014, foreign exchange value has been unregulated by the Russian Central Bank. Experts are divided in their […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Sergei Alexashenko: “Russia’s Economy Slows Amid Investment Woes”

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Writing in The Moscow Times, Sergei Alexashenko assesses trends in the Russian economy and some of the factors impacting them. Russia’s economy is faring poorly …. Gross domestic product has swung back to a level last seen in the first of 2008 and the economy has essentially stagnated over the last seven years. * * * The situation in Russia is not […]

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NEWSWATCH CNN: “Russia’s middle class: We don’t blame Putin.”

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CNN reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political standing and the reaction by the Russian citizenry to the impact of sanctions, embargoes and economic downturn. Russia’s middle class has had a tough time recently, but they aren’t blaming … Putin for it. [In addition to restrictions on certain travel and imports] … The ruble has lost more than half its […]

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Ruble Sinks to New Lows As Oil Prices Plummet

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 8, 2015) The Russian ruble has continued its slide to dramatic lows, falling to 69 against the U.S. dollar on Monday for the first time since September, according to news reports. The euro, too, reached a two-month high, climbing to 75 rubles on Monday evening, with Russian analysts linking the ruble’s downward spiral to […]

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How the Unshackled Ruble Has Changed Russia’s Economy Forever; The weaker currency has hit consumers hard but helped oil producers

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Andre Tartar – November 9, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-10/how-the-unshackled-ruble-has-changed-russia-s-economy-forever] Today marks the one-year anniversary of the freeing of the ruble for the first time in its post-Soviet history. In five charts, we show how the central bank’s decision to stop depleting international reserves to prop up the currency has upended every facet of the […]

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