Lost Trillions Haunt Russian Budget Keeper in Cheap-Oil Era

Tatiana Golikova file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova – September 21, 2016) To get a snapshot of a budget in crisis, visit any of the 10,700 abandoned construction sites that litter Russia, all that’s left after a trickle of state funding ran dry. The costly clutter is one reason the head of the Audit Chamber, a government agency that monitors […]

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[Medvedev:] New dynamics in Russia’s socioeconomic development

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru/Rossiyskaya Gazeta – September 22, 2016) Article by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for the academic journal Voprosy Ekonomiki (Economic Issues) vopreco.ru/rus/redaction.files/10-16.pdf Abridged version (published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta): The Russian economy is undergoing a period of profound transformation. In the next few years Russia will have to fundamentally restructure its economic system in response to the challenges and changes of the […]

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Medvedev Warns Russia of Economic Reform’s ‘High Social Cost’

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 22, 2016) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the reforms needed to save Russia’s economy will have “a high social cost” for the Russian people. Writing in an article for Russian economic journal “Questions of Economics,” Medvedev pledged that Russian authorities would not revert to Soviet-style planning, but maintained that deregulation was […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian PM says economy should be overhauled”

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

Russia’s economy should over the next few years undergo an overhaul to remain competitive in the world, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an article entitled “Russia’s social and economic development: acquisition of new dynamics” for the Voprosy Ekonomiki (Economic Issues) magazine. …

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NEWSLINK Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization/Simon Saradzhyan: “Is #Russia Declining?”

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Abstract: This article measures changes in #Russia’s performance in economic, technological, military, and human capital domains and compares this performance to those of five of the West’s leading powers, the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as to the world as a whole (wherever possible), to test the hypothesis that Russia has declined versus its Western […]

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NEWSLINK Los Angeles Times/Max Boot: “Who’s better for his people? Putin or Obama? The answer is obvious.”

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

“… I am no defender of President Obama. I was a foreign policy advisor to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, and I have been very critical of Obama’s weak foreign policy. I think the Iran nuclear deal, the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and the hands-off policy toward Syria, in particular, have been catastrophic mistakes. I am […]

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Kremlinology: an intervention; Protests and strikes across Russia show that the country’s “silent majority” is becoming louder. But are pundits even listening?

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sean Guillory – September 13, 2016) Sean Guillory lives in Pittsburgh. He hosts the SRB podcast, a weekly podcast on Eurasian politics, history and culture, and blogs for seansrussiablog.org. You can follow him on Twitter @seansrussiablog. Writings on contemporary Russia are mostly variations on the same subject: Vladimir Putin; his rise to and iron grip on power. Western […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Post-Election Economy: Down, But Not Out. Parliamentary elections are rapidly approaching, but this time politicians aren’t making any pie-in-the-sky promises.” – Moscow Times/Boris Grozovsky

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

By any measure, the Russian economy is deep in a classic recession: GDP has dropped for the sixth consecutive quarter. If Russia had political competition, these elections would pose a challenge for both the ruling party and the opposition. But without real competition, politicians are under little pressure to lift the economy out of the current crisis. … * * […]

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Russia’s Economic Crisis Finally Hitting Moscow and St. Petersburg, Survey Shows

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 8, 2016) Because incomes in Moscow and St. Petersburg were higher to begin with, residents of the two Russian capitals until recently had been able to absorb the impact of the economic crisis better than the other and poorer regions, one reason why there have been fewer economic protests in the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Answers to journalists’ questions

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

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2016) Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions following his working visit to China to take part in the G20 Summit. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Let’s dispense with opening remarks and get straight into the discussion. I will try to answer the questions of interest to you. Question: Mr President, this year, for the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Eastern Economic Forum (excepts)

Asia Map

(Kremlin.ru – September 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum. This year, representatives of 35 countries applied to attend the forum. In total, delegations from 56 countries are taking part. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Park Geun-hye, Mr Shinzo Abe, friends, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Vladivostok, to the second Eastern […]

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Russian Stocks Climb to Fresh Record as Ruble Gains on Oil, Fed

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – September 5, 2016) Russian stocks climbed to a record for the second day in a row and the ruble rallied with bonds as oil advanced and investors speculated U.S. rates will stay low, fueling demand for higher-yielding assets. The Micex Index closed up 0.7 percent to 2,017.38 after piercing the 2,000-point level for […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Interview to Bloomberg

Asia Map

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2016) Full text of Vladimir Putin’s interview to the international media company Bloomberg has been published. The interview was recorded on September 1, 2016, in Vladivostok. John Micklethwait: Mr President, thank you very much for speaking to Bloomberg. Here in Vladivostok we’re on the edge of the Pacific and on the eve of the second Eastern […]

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Cuts, cuts, cuts: the life and times of Russia’s university teachers

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Russia’s higher education sector is at a crossroads. A few universities are trying to raising their game in the hope of international ranking, but most are barely surviving staff and funding cuts. (opendemocracy.net – Tatyana Dvornikova – September 2, 2016) Tatyana Dvornikova is a Moscow-based journalist. She works with Colta, Kommersant and Radio Mel. Russia’s higher education sector is braced […]

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A Year After $18 Billion Debt Deal, Ukraine Is Hardly Better Off

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff – August 29, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-29/a-year-after-18-billion-debt-deal-ukraine-is-hardly-better-off] A year after Ukraine averted default by reaching an agreement with creditors to restructure $18 billion of debt, the country’s bond market is again beginning to veer off course. After outperforming all of emerging Europe in the first seven months of the year, some of those gains […]

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Russia Default Risk Falls to Lowest Since August Crimea Flare-Up

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – September 1, 2016) The cost of insuring Russian debt using credit-default swaps fell to a three-week low as tensions with Ukraine eased, offering relief from mounting political risk that had weighed on assets last month. Five-year CDS contracts declined seven basis points this week to 219, the lowest since Aug. 10 when Russian […]

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Russia Says Oil Output Freeze Not Needed With Price Near $50

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Stephen Bierman – September 1, 2016) Russia sees no need for talks with other major oil exporters on freezing output with prices at around $50 a barrel, according to the Energy Ministry in Moscow. If prices fall, then Russia will consider resuming discussions, the ministry’s press service cited Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying. […]

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Interfax: Russian economy in for slow, unsteady recovery – Central Bank

Central Bank of Russia file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 1 (Interfax) – The Russian economy an expect slow, unsteady recovery in the next few quarters, the Central Bank’s Research and Forecasting Department said in its latest Talking Trends bulletin. The Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said in an initial estimate that GDP had fallen 0.6% year-on-year in Q2 2016. The Central Bank’s analysts said Rosstat’s data imply […]

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Russia’s Ruble Shakes Off August Blues With First Gain in Decade

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Vladimir Kuznetsov – August 31, 2016) The Russian ruble headed for its first gain in August in a decade as a jump in oil prices and high domestic rates helped lure investors hunting returns in riskier emerging-market assets. The currency of the world’s biggest energy exporter traded little changed at 65.24 against the dollar by 3:02 […]

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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(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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Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development Pins Hopes on Rising Oil Prices

Oil Well file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 30, 2016) Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development has announced a new “baseline plus” plan for the Russian economy, despite concerns that the country’s original economic strategy remains unbalanced, the Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday. While the country’s current baseline plan is formed on the price of oil remaining stable at $40 per barrel for […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Businessman takes hostages in Moscow bank in desperate plea to Putin”

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

On Aug. 24, a bankrupt businessman took the staff and customers of a bank in downtown Moscow hostage in a bid to attract the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the plight of those in his position.

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Russians blame government for price rise, insufficient social protection – poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Aug 25 (Interfax) – Russians mostly criticize the national government for “being unable to deal with the price rise and shrinking household income” (42%) and “failing to ensure social protection” (34%), the Levada Center told Interfax. The price rise problem is losing its topicality (48% in January 2016 vs. 55% in 2015), while social protection demands are on the […]

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Angry Farmers Stage Tractor March on Moscow

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – August 22, 2016) Several hundred farmers from southern Russia complained of intense police harassment Monday as they entered the second day of a drive towards Moscow they are staging to raise awareness about the problem of local corruption. In the space of 24 hours, their convoy of tractors and cars was stopped […]

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How Bad are Things in Russia Today? Some People There are Now Pawning Their Teeth

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 21, 2015) The worsening economic situation in Russia is highlighted by many things but none more compelling than the fact that it is forcing ever more people there to pawn whatever items of value they have – including their teeth — and then not to be in a position to reclaim […]

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NEWSLINK RBTH: “Why is Russia postponing the privatization of its oil companies?”

Oil Well file photo

The Russian government has announced that it will postpone the privatization of state share packages in the Rosneft and Bashneft oil companies. Russian analysts believe that this is because the price being asked is not acceptable to buyers.

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Stealing a Peek at Russian Economic Uptick Before It Happens

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andrey Biryukov – August 11, 2016) Prone to false starts since a crisis peaked last year, Russia’s economy is riding momentum that has it on the cusp of exiting the longest recession in two decades. As business sentiment perks up, leading indicators from demand for electricity to rail cargoes and container transport show the pulse of […]

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Experts Predict ‘Lost Decade’ For Russia’s Stagnating Economy

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

A lack of dialogue on economic incentives could threaten future growth (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexandra Prokopenko, Margarita Papchenkova – August 19, 2016) #Russia’s #economy needs powerful external stimuli or fundamental domestic reform in order to avoid further stagnation, a report from the Centre of Development at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) has claimed. The country’s gross domestic […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government finds itself under social spending pressure in election season” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

The Russian government will discuss either indexing pensions by 8.6% on September 1 or making a one-time payment to pensioners …. Despite the ongoing efforts to consolidate the budget amid the unprecedented fiscal squeeze, the government might have to give in to increasing social spending as the two-year election season starts …. The Russian government needs to find RUB2 trillion ($31bn) from somewhere […]

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Russia’s New Poor Ashamed of Their Poverty and Try to Hide It, Sociologist Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 16, 2016) In Russia today, with the gap between rich and poor again widening, Olga Simonova says, “poverty is viewed not as an individual’s misfortune but as his fault.” As a result, while they complain to pollster, Russia’s new poor do not turn to the state even when it could help […]

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On Russian studies [and Re: “Opportunities and Constraints of Authoritarian Modernisation: Russian Policy Reforms in the 2000s”]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: On Russian studies Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2016 From: Brian D Taylor <bdtaylor@maxwell.syr.edu> Thanks again for all you do with JRL. It’s a very valuable resource. I would like to say, though, that “real Russian studies” are not particularly rare. If you ask social scientists who study Russia, they could point you to many detailed analyses of practically every […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Ukraine and Russia Need Each Other” – Nicolai Petro/Russian Politics

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

Ukraine needs ….  the restoration of those economic ties with Russia that clearly benefit the Ukrainian economy, at least until Ukraine develops stable alternative markets. …. a stop gap measure needed to stop the hemorrhaging of resources, manpower, and capital, and to win Ukraine time and breathing space for economic reform …. Nor do I see it as a matter […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Public Assessments of the Putin Policy Program: Achievements and Challenges” – John P. Willerton/Russian Politics

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

A decade and a half into the Putin team’s tenure, what are Russians’ policy concerns, and how do they accord with Putin team priorities and actions? What is the level of public support for Putin and his team, and how do Russians assess the Putin team’s policy record to date? * * * … survey results reveal that Putin and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Turkey’s Erdogan Patches Up Relations With Putin” – Wall Street Journal

Turkey map

… Putin and … Erdogan mended fences in a high-profile meeting Tuesday, bolstering their governments’ ties as both face strained relations with the West. … Erdogan’s first trip abroad since the Turkish coup attempt … signals his willingness to look to Moscow, traditionally the counterweight to Western influence in the Middle East. But Western leaders say Turkey … crucial to […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with CEO of Sberbank German Gref

Sberbank File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – August 4, 2016) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Sberbank CEO and Chairman of the Board German Gref to discuss the bank’s results for the last year, the situation on the housing mortgage market, and financial support measures for small businesses. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Gref, I know that the bank’s work has been not […]

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Vladimir Putin Is His Economy’s Worst Enemy

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – July 27, 2016 – Editorial) Russian President Vladimir Putin urgently needs to revive his country’s economy. His greatest obstacle will be himself. While Americans argue about the extent of Russia’s intervention in the U.S. presidential election, Putin is battling a recession at home. To that end, he has recently focused on the ruble’s exchange rate: A […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of ASI Expert Council

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 21, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) Expert Council, which is marking its 5th anniversary. The President also visited an exhibition presenting projects that have received ASI support over various years, in particular, new developments in medicine, communications, transport, housing and utilities, agriculture, continued and vocational education, and […]

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Hybrid Business — The Risks In The Kremlin’s Weaponization Of The Economy

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Commentary: Mark Galeotti, Anna Arutunyan – July 20, 2016) Mark Galeotti is a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. Anna Arutunyan is a Moscow-based journalist and writer, author of The Putin Mystique. “How many divisions does the pope have?” Josef Stalin was meant to have […]

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Putin Debt Binge Indulged While Russia Looks Good Next to Europe

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Vladimir Kuznetsov, Natasha Doff – July 20, 2016) No one’s complaining about record debt in Russia next year as an influx of foreign investors helps the government borrow its way out of recession. The Finance Ministry plans to quadruple domestic debt issuance to $20 billion in 2017 to fund a growing budget shortfall and avoid depleting […]

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Russia’s Consumers Still in Shock as They Cut Back on Food and Medicine

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – July 19, 2016) With stores from near the Arctic to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, Magnit PJSC would be the first to know when the Russian consumer is back. Instead, the nation’s largest supermarket chain has just come across something it’s never seen. Billionaire Sergey Galitskiy’s retailer, which operates almost 13,000 outlets […]

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

Boris Titov file photo

(Kremlin.ru – July 18, 2016) Boris Titov presented to the President the Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights annual report. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon Mr Titov. Have you prepared your report? Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov: Yes, Mr President. I am ready to present what will be my third report since my appointment as Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights. […]

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Oil Must Go to $40 and Stay There to Buy Russia Some Reforms

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Andre Tartar – July 18, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-17/oil-must-go-to-40-and-stay-there-to-buy-russia-reforms-at-last] At an oil price of $40 or below, Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a flat income tax, built a sovereign wealth fund and delivered speeches to the Bundestag in German. When it was over $100, he fought two wars with neighbors and splashed over $40 […]

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Despite Putin Jibes, Russia Places Hope In ‘Brexiteer’ Boris Johnson

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, July 14, 2016) In a single sentence, he once called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “manipulative tyrant” and likened him to the big-eared, bug-eyed “house elf” from the Harry Potter series. But the surprise appointment of Boris Johnson to head the British Foreign Office is being cautiously welcomed by Moscow — and […]

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PRESS RELEASE: Jamestown Launches ‘Russia in Decline’ Project

Kremlin and River

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – July 14, 2016) JAMESTOWN LAUNCHES ‘RUSSIA IN DECLINE’ PROJECT The Jamestown Foundation is proud to officially unveil a special project, Russia in Decline, which seeks to shed light on the possible futures facing the Russian Federation based on currently observable trends of a country trapped on a downward trajectory. This project is headed by longtime […]

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Reluctantly, Russia Starts Sell-Off of Major State Companies

Empty Boardroom

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobso – July 14, 2016) Back in April, President Vladimir Putin was asked at a press conference why he planned to sell state companies just when the market was at bottom. Putin’s reply was blunt: “We need the money.” Russia was, after all, in a bind. A deep recession and plunging oil prices meant […]

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