Lack of Manifestos Points to Political Complacency in Russian Regions – Experts

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 4, 2015) Only five acting governors taking part in elections in 21 Russian regions next week have published electoral manifestos, the Petersburg Politics think tank said in a report published Thursday. The lack of manifestos attests to a deficit of clear vision among potential heads of Russian regions – as well […]

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Sberbank forecasts Russian GDP to contract 0.5% in 2016 – Gref

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MOSCOW. Sept 3 (Interfax) – Sberbank of Russia (MOEX: SBER) expects Russian GDP to contract 0.5% in 2016, bank President and CEO German Gref said on Rossiya 24 television. “Our most realistic forecast assumes economic growth will be negative 0.5%. We do not for now see any sources of growth that would produce serious recovery next year,” Gref said. The […]

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Russians More Concerned About Economy Than Ukraine – Poll

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 2, 2015) Economic crisis and the resulting poverty, inflation and growing inequality are more important to Russians than the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, a poll conducted by the independent Levada Center revealed on Monday. While the civil strife in eastern Ukraine still features on the list of Russians’ top 10 concerns, it was […]

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Preparing a Child for a School Year Gets Too Expensive For Russian Parents

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – August 31, 2015) As Russian children get ready to start a new school year this week, their parents have to cough up a record amount of money to equip them with everything they need, according to the latest study by a state-run pollster. An average Russian family will spend almost 20,000 rubles […]

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Odds grow for Ukrainian default on $3 billion Russia debt

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – August 28, 2015) Despite an initial surge of optimism about Ukraine’s financial health after it appeared to clinch a crucial restructuring deal with private creditors, the country is increasingly expected to default on a $3bn Russian-held Eurobond due for redemption in December 2015. The likelihood of the scenario grew after the […]

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Ukraine not out of the woods yet

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – KYIV BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – August 28, 2015) The $3.6bn debt deal announced on August 27 by Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance, where private bondholders agreed to take a 20% writedown on the face value of $18bn in government debt, is very good news. Yet it’s not a done deal and the final […]

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Russians Consider Marrying, Giving Birth and Education Most Important Things

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 28, 2015) When asked what the most important things to do before turning 30 are, most Russians chose getting married, giving birth and receiving an education, while things like starting a business or traveling the world were at the bottom of the list, a poll released Wednesday by an independent Russian […]

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A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

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

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

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Russia Faces Reality With Prediction of Deeper Economic Slump

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas – August 25, 2015) Russia’s government is starting to face reality. While insisting the worst of its recession was over, it cut its economic forecasts for this year and next amid the renewed plunge in energy prices and persistent sanctions over Ukraine. Economists said the revisions fell short of their estimates predicting […]

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‘Black Monday’ inflicts further damage on Russian markets

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Amid turmoil on global financial markets, the Russian ruble fell to a historic low against the U.S. dollar on Aug. 24, while the key stock market index, the RTS, dropped 6 percent. Russian analysts say that there is little room for optimism while oil prices remain low. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan – August 25, 2015) […]

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Russia Won’t Suffer the Soviet Union’s Fate

dont-talk-soviet-poster

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 25, 2015) If you believe low oil prices killed the Soviet Union, it seems reasonable to wonder whether the current commodities bust will topple President Vladimir Putin or even break up Russia. Cheap oil, however, didn’t destroy the Soviet empire: Communism did. Putin’s Russia is more oil-dependent than its predecessor, but it […]

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Russian economy minister says oil price expected at 52 dollars

Oil Wells File Photo

(RIA Novosti – August 24, 2015) Russian Economic Development Minister has said the price of oil will find a new balance in a few months at the level of just over 50 dollars a barrel, RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) reported on 24 August. He said the average price of Urals oil will amount […]

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Sanctions not responsible for Russia’s falling GDP, say experts

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According to a new report by Central Bank analysts, sanctions against Russia have not played a significant role in the decline of Russia’s economy, with experts agreeing that low oil prices are principally to blame. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – August 24, 2015) The introduction of Western sanctions against Russia is responsible for only […]

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Economic Crisis Empties Moscow Central Streets

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

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

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How Next Round of Russia’s Disintegration May Begin

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 24, 2015) In his poem, “The Fall of Rome,” W.H. Auden wrote that it could be signaled not by some dramatic event but rather by “a bored official” scribbling a note and leaving his office to go home, a reminder that enormous tectonic shifts often begin with small things that most […]

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Russian ruble tumbles as oil prices tank

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – August 20, 2015) Russia’s ruble tumbled to a six-month low of RUB67 to the dollar and RUB75 to the euro on Thursday, as oil prices dropped yet again to $47 a barrel. The fall in the ruble adds to the turmoil in emerging markets over the past […]

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Russia Rewrites Growth Blueprint as Recession Dooms Consumer

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 19, 2015) [Chart here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-19/russia-rewrites-blueprint-for-growth-as-recession-dooms-consumer] Russia’s consumer economy, powered for more than a decade by a $2.1 trillion energy windfall, is in agony. The situation is getting worse, according to data released Wednesday by the statistics office in Moscow. Wages adjusted for inflation plummeted 9.2 percent last month from a year earlier […]

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Oil Prices Must Rebound. Here’s Why.

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Steve Brown – August 19, 2015) [Charts here http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Oil-Prices-Must-Rebound-Heres-Why.html] Last week I spotted a very interesting chart that Gregor MacDonald tweeted which showed world oil production over recent years excluding the USA. The chart was pretty flat and that got me wondering about the extent to which the world has come to depend upon Light Tight Oil in […]

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State Statistics Show Flat Unemployment, Survey Paints Different Story

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 20, 2015) Despite unemployment levels remaining relatively consistent in the first six months of 2015, more Russians are seeing close friends and family members losing their jobs than in January, according to survey data released by a Russian polling center on Tuesday. According to Russian state statistics agency Rosstat, in January the levels of […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Chris Weafer: No End in Sight to the Ruble’s Downward Slide

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Writing in The Moscow Times, Chris Weafer considers trends in the Russian economy, with a focus on the ruble. … More than anything else the ruble is very much like the single bolt which holds a hang-glider together. If it breaks then the glider will fall to earth and the pilot very likely killed. * * * The reason why the ruble has that critical role is because, […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: Russians Seek to Soften Impact of Ruble Depreciation. Businesses look for new ways to hedge against further currency volatility.

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The Wall Street Journal covers Russian vulnerability to currency volatility. Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, currency volatility once seemed consigned to the past. Before Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, the ruble had kept an average range of between 25 and 35 to the dollar for several years. Now the exchange rate hovers around 66 to the dollar. * * […]

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Simon Saradzhyan: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7)

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7) Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2015 23:14:07 +0000 From: Simon Saradzhyan <Simon_Saradzhyan@hks.harvard.edu> Simon Saradzhyan’s Response to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy in Foreign Affairs. [Simon Saradzhyan is assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism and a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer […]

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Putin Aide Who Called Shock Rate Cut Sees Pause as Oil Nears $40

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Evgenia Pismennaya – August 18, 2015) Andrey Belousov went largely unheeded the last time he forecast a shift in monetary policy. Now President Vladimir Putin’s top economic aide is lending weight to a growing consensus that Russia’s easing cycle is wearing out. The central bank may pause its interest-rate cuts after five decreases this […]

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Russian Press Digest (19 August 2015)

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Wednesday, the Russian press focuses on the departure of Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. According to business daily Kommersant, Yakunin called his decision to leave ‘a personal one’ during a conversation with Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Kaliningrad’s election commission is processing Yakunin’s candidacy to become the […]

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Real incomes in Russia decline 2.0% in July, wages down 9.2% – Rosstat

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MOSCOW. Aug 19 (Interfax) – Real disposable incomes in Russia fell 2.0% in July compared with the same month last year, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. They fell 3.5% in June, 6.4% in May, 4% in April, 1.8% in March, 1.6% in February and 0.8% in January. Incomes fell 2.9% in real terms in January-July 2015. They declined […]

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Putin Said Ready to Revamp Inner Circle as Ally Yakunin Goes

Kremlin and River

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

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Putin May Be Tiring of His Cronies

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

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

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RIA Novosti: Putin says no need to worry about Russian economy

Putin at Desk

(RIA Novosti – August 18, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Russians not to worry about the country’s economy, because the government is monitoring the situation around the clock, RIA Novosti reported on 18 August. “Everyone is on the job; the government is managing the economy, on a daily and hourly basis. We don’t let anything out of […]

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Russia continues to increase investments in U.S. Treasuries

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

(Interfax – August 18, 2015) Russia increased its investments in U.S. Treasury bonds in June by $1.4 billion, just as it did in May, according to data from the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve System, published on Aug. 18. At the end of June, the volume of Russian-owned U.S. Treasury bonds stood at $72 billion. Russia is currently 19th […]

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Russia’s surprisingly stingy sovereign wealth fund

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As disputes over budget spending intensify, the stability of NWF suggests fiscal conservatives in government can still fight their corner. (Business New Europe – bne.eu – Alex Nice, analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit – August 18, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/insiders-russias-surprisingly-stingy-sovereign-wealth-fund] Since the EU and US imposed sanctions on Russia’s banking, defence and energy sectors in mid-2014, there has been speculation […]

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

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

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

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NEWSLINK Kiev Post/Alexei Bayer: “Even if the Russian economy crumbles – as it is likely to do in the near-to-medium term, just as the Russian economy collapsed under Bolshevism – it will not result in any kind of a new beginning. There may be changes, but probably not for the better.”

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

Even if the Russian economy crumbles – as it is likely to do in the near-to-medium term, just as the Russian economy collapsed under Bolshevism – it will not result in any kind of a new beginning. There may be changes, but probably not for the better.

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Russians Named Europe’s Least Productive Workers

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

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Eight Facts to Celebrate 100 Starbucks in Russia

Starbucks Counter with U.S. Ambassador and Crew

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ilaria Parogni – August 12, 2015) American coffeehouse chain Starbucks Coffee celebrated the opening of his 100th Russian branch in Tuesday. The new venue is located inside the shopping center Galereya in St. Petersburg, the company announced on social media. Starbucks is currently holding celebrations at the new location and at the company’s flagship store […]

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Russian Press Digest 12 August 2015

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Wednesday, the Russian press reports on import substitution, copyright news and the emergence of a new, Cossack currency in St Petersburg. This morning, business daily Kommersant leads with an article on import substitution-a commission devoted to the issue has just been set up, with Dmitry Medvedev its head. The commission’s first meeting took […]

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Russians Require Minimum Monthly Income of $350, Poll Shows

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 13, 2015) The minimum monthly income a household needs to make ends meet, according to the average Russian, is 22,755 rubles ($350) per person – nearly 2.5 times more than the official minimum cost of living in Russia, a survey by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) revealed. Respondents’ answers varied according to […]

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Fractures Form Inside Russia’s Central Bank as Recession Deepens

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov – August 12, 2015) In his first stint as a top Russian central bank official in the early 1990s, Dmitry Tulin saw how flooding cheap credit to dying industrial giants delivered hyperinflation instead of growth. Now back as the bank’s monetary chief, Tulin, 59, has argued internally for easier credit and more […]

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Poll: Banned food better be given to needy, orphans

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

(Interfax – August 13, 2015) Forty percent of Russians have backed the authorities’ decision to destroy embargoed food, while the number of opponents is a bit higher (48 percent), the Levada Center has told Interfax on Aug. 13. In the opinion of the respondents, the food would better be given to orphanages, homeless shelters or hospitals (43 percent) or be […]

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VIDEO: Conversation: Russia’s Perfect Economic Storm

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(Stratfor.com – August 11, 2015) Video Transcript: Ben Sheen: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Ben Sheen, I’m a managing editor here at Stratfor, and with me today is Stratfor’s senior Eurasia analyst, Lauren Goodrich, who will be talking to me about the state of the Russian economy. So Lauren, Russia is struggling at the moment. […]

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