Poll finds 45% of Russians Dissatisfied With The Country’s Situation

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 19, 2017) A recent poll by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) found that 45 percent of Russians are dissatisfied with the general situation in the country, the RBC newspaper reports. Nearly half the population expressed dissatisfaction with the authorities in the realm of healthcare, the economy and the social safety net. The results of […]

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Remarks by the President in Final Press Conference. (excerpt re: Russia)

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(The White House – Office of the Press Secretary – January 18, 2017) Q Mr. President, thank you. The President-elect has said that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia if they substantially reduced their nuclear stockpile. Given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that’s an effective strategy? Knowing this office and Mr. Trump, how would you […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: World Bank urges Russia to invest in education and health care

World Bank Building

A new World Bank report shifts from the usual criticism of Russian dependence on raw materials toward the nation’s need to invest more in the population in order for them to be best prepared for the challenges of modernity. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – KIRA KALININA, RBTH – January 18, 2017) In a break from past reports, the […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia cut its nuclear arsenal in exchange for lifting sanctions?”

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

The U.S. may reconsider sanctions against Russia if the latter agrees to reduce its nuclear arsenals, said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with the British newspaper, The Times. According to military experts, if the reduction is reciprocal then such an agreement will be to Russia’s advantage. Russia, however, will first want a change in NATO policy. (Russia Beyond […]

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NEWSWATCH: “China Goes Food Shopping-to Russia; ‘Everything that can be consumed by a human being in China is something they’re interested in,’ Russian official says” – Wall Street Journal/AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN/Liyan Qi

Asia Map

China bought more than $1 billion in food products from Russia last year, replacing Turkey as the top importer of Russian foodstuffs. … central to Russia’s economic and political pivot toward Asia, as the Russian economy continues to suffer under Western sanctions and the low price of oil, and U.S.-Russian relations deteriorate …. Russia and China … describe current relations […]

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Another Fatal Flaw in Russia’s Company Towns: Business More Powerful than the State

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 14, 2016) Russia’s 300-plus urban centers known as “monogorods” or “company towns” where the vast majority of the population have been the subject of episodic discussions typically triggered when the chief firm closes down, the population is impoverished, and protests arise. Then, these places where more than ten percent of the […]

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TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: [Medvedev at] The 8th Gaidar Forum

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – January 12, 2017) The Gaidar Forum is an ongoing project for discussing topical problems of our time. The forum was first held in 2010 and is dedicated to the memory of Yegor Gaidar, researcher, economist and ideologist of Russian reforms of the early 1990s. The forum’s discussions center around topics concerning Russia’s status and strategic role in the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “General Frost to the Rescue: cold helps Russia comply with OPEC deal” – Reuters

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

“… Russia … in the past … accused of dragging its feet in implementing oil production and exports deals, reduced production by 100,000 barrels a day in the first few days of January … a third of the way towards the total cut Russia promised to deliver by mid-2017. … [at least partly] the result [of]  …unusually cold temperatures in […]

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Econ Ministry to prepare measures in Feb to improve Russia’s Doing Business rating

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Jan 11 (Interfax) – The Economic Development Ministry plans to prepare a list of measures in February to further improve Russia’s Doing Business rating. “The need to further improve the business climate has been spoken of. Here standard work for moving further ahead is underway. Russia made a very big step in the Doing Business rating, for instance, over […]

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World Bank Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth In Russia For 2017

World Bank Building

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 11, 2017) The World Bank is predicting 1.5 percent growth in Russia’s gross domestic product in 2017 and sees a gain of 1.7 percent in 2018 and 1.8 percent the following year, helped by increases in commodity prices. Russia’s projected GDP growth follows an estimated 0.6 percent contraction in 2016 and a 3.7 percent contraction […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Kremlin.ru – January 9, 2017) Yaroslav Kuzminov updated the President on the implementation of the Academic Excellence Project 5-100. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuzminov, the Higher School of Economics will mark its 25th anniversary this year. How will you celebrate this notable event? Rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov: We will celebrate it with new […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2016) The messages Kremlin propaganda is disseminating and the actual beliefs of Russians are increasingly diverging, except on the “sacred” issue of approval for Vladimir Putin, surveys show, an indication that his regime’s media efforts are ever less successful in shaping public attitudes, according to Igor Yakovenko. The Russian commentator […]

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Russian Central Bank Chief Nabiullina Named European Banker of the Year

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 4, 2017) The British finance journal The Banker has named Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina as the European Central Bank Chairman of the year. The journal highlighted Nabiullina’s success in controlling Russia’s inflation rate. “The efforts of the Central Bank head has led to the fact that the rate of inflation by the […]

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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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‘Where Is This Country Going?’ Debt Crisis Tugs At Russian Federation’s Seams

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – January 2, 2017) A surprisingly harsh war of words has broken out between the Russian central government and one of the country’s most prosperous regions, in a sign of tension as cash-strapped Moscow struggles to fill its budget deficit. The government of the Republic of Tatarstan sought to soften the blow by pulling […]

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Russia Sets Oil Production Record in 2016

Oil Well file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 2, 2017) Russia set a record for annual oil extraction in 2016 amid some of the lowest oil prices in recent history. In 2016, Russia extracted 527,499 million tons of oil and gas condensate, a 2.5 percent increase from 2015. The figure represents a previously unseen high, according to data from Russia’s Fuel and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite political clout, Russian seniors find later life options limited; Though their numbers are increasing and their voting bloc powerful, elderly Russians generally lack either the savings or sufficient government pension to finance a comfortable retirement” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“… Tradition remains strong here, and huge numbers of pensioners still live with their families. Millions more take refuge in state-run old age homes, which are of varying quality. Due to the unusual political strength of pensioners and war veterans in Soviet and now Russian society, publicly-run facilities for the elderly have always been relatively well-resourced and are currently under […]

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Trump Has Tough Choice After Obama Sanctions on Russia Hack

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nick Wadhams, Justin Sink – December 30, 2016) President Barack Obama is forcing his successor, Donald Trump, into a difficult choice: reverse the sanctions the departing president just imposed on Russia for hacking e-mails in the U.S. election or put at risk his campaign vow to improve relations with Vladimir Putin. Hours after Obama imposed penalties […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In 2017, Putin faces his toughest challenge: Russian pessimism; After several years of economic hardship and international pressure over its annexation of Crimea, Russia may see its lot improve next year. But most are skeptical of the possibility of lasting change” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Putin at Desk

… Most adult Russians have seen roller-coaster ups and downs in the past 25 years, from the harrowing collapse of the superstate of their birth, the USSR; to a decade of economic despair and social decay; to several years of revival under Putin that came to a screeching halt amid economic crisis and global condemnation following Russia’s annexation of Crimea […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin focuses on domestic issues in his annual press conference marathon; International relations and the showdown with the West in Ukraine and Syria got little attention this year” – bne Intellinews

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Putin … [began] his annual marathon press conference … with a run down of the latest macroeconomic results. In the last two events he spent more time on international relations and the showdown with the West in Ukraine and Syria, which got little attention this year. * * * Putin indirectly dismissed … speculation … Russia hacked the US […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – December 23, 2016) [Video with English translation http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53573] The President’s news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Channel One, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations. Television channel Public Television of Russia (OTR) and its site (otr-online.ru/online/) provided live sign language interpretation of the news conference. President of Russia Vladimir […]

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Russian Families Spend 80% of Income on Essentials

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – moscowtimes.com – December 21, 2016) Families in Russia are spending between 70-80 percent of their household income on essentials, according to a report cited by the RBC newspaper. According to a Center for Economic and Political Reform report, the average Russian family consisting of two working parents and one child spends between 53-143 percent of their income […]

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In Russia, the Refrigerator is Finally Defeating the TV but Not Having the Political Impact Many Expected

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 12, 2016) For months, Moscow commentators have suggested that Russians are caught between what the Kremlin shows them on television and what they see in their increasingly empty refrigerators and predicted that eventually the refrigerator would defeat the TV and that this would have immediate political consequences. The findings of two […]

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Russian Energy Minister Says Oil Cuts to Start in January

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Annmarie Hordern – December 11, 2016) Russia’s oil producers have started preparations to meet the nation’s pledge to curb output as part of the “historic” pact between OPEC and 11 producers outside the group, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. “The first stage of the cut we will see as soon as early January,” Novak […]

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Poll: Fewer Russians Believe in Russia’s ‘Special Path’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 12, 2016) Fewer Russians believe their country has a unique, “special path” to development, a poll by the independent Levada Center has found. Only 16 percent of Russians said that Russia should have a special path and a special state apparatus for developing the country, down from 24 percent the previous year. One in […]

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Putin Caps a Turnaround Year as Rosneft Deal Beats Sanctions

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Ilya Arkhipov – December 8, 2016) As the U.S. and #Europe try to isolate #Russia with #sanctions, Vladimir #Putin just managed to oversee one of the biggest investments in the global #energy industry this year. The surprise $11 billion sale of shares in oil giant #Rosneft PJSC to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and Glencore […]

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Sanctions, economic pressure are increasingly used for political pressure – Putin

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. Dec 7 (Interfax) – Russia should take into account the increase in the use of methods of economic and sanction pressure when working on its long-term economic strategy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Economic restrictions, pressure, and sanctions are being increasingly used for political purposes, under the guise of political purposes, often in competition. We should take these tendencies […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin made a working trip to Chelyabinsk Region

File Photo of Russian MI-26 Helicopter in Afghanistan with MI-17 Helicopter In Background

(Kremlin.ru – December 5, 2016) The President toured the Makeyev State Rocket Centre in Miass, where he held a meeting on the centre’s activity. Vladimir Putin took part in the launch of a new production line at the Eterno Plant in Chelyabinsk, which produces advanced components for pipe systems using nanotechnology. The Eterno Plant is a joint project of the […]

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How Russia Outsmarted OPEC

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – December 5, 2016) #OPEC’s historical deal to cut production has been sealed, and #oil prices have jumped as a result, comfortably above the $50 per barrel mark. According to #Lukoil’s vice president, Leonid Fedun, the average price of crude in 2017 could reach US$60 a barrel, thanks in no small part to that agreement. According […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Continue the Unfinished Business of Integrating Russia into the Global Economy. Renewed economic interaction would increase the West’s influence, not lessen it” – The National Interest/Carnegie Corporation/J. Andrew Spindler

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump has an unusual opportunity … to improve the tone of U.S.-Russian relations, currently at one of their lowest ebbs …. The positive possibilities in the short run are substantial …. the potential for a U.S.-Russian collaboration in the Middle East, particularly with regard to defeating ISIS and developing a peace plan for Syria. … there are many other […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ahead of promised cut, Russia’s oil output hits record high” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

Russia plans to use its November oil production … its highest in almost 30 years, as its baseline when it cuts output under [a] deal with OPEC …. Russia … promised to gradually cut output by up to 300,000 … bpd … aimed at supporting oil prices. Its daily oil production rose to an average of 11.21 million bpd in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin gives a Soviet-style state of the union, and some #Russian eyes glazed over” – Washington Post/David Filipov/Andrew Roth

Kremlin and River

… Putin called for better ties with the United States in his annual address … while brushing away … concerns about Kremlin interference in other countries. But the moment that went ­viral … was … Medvedev, eyes turned down, appearing to doze off. Whether the premier was napping or … checking his notes …. In a businesslike tone that recalled a Soviet […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Last chance? Putin vows – again – to bring economic reform to Russia. In his state of the union speech Thursday, Putin said he would wean Russia from its oil dependency, revive its flagging economic dynamism, and restore its global reputation. But his window may be closing.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

… pledging … deep domestic reforms to wean Russia from its oil dependency, revive its flagging economic dynamism, and restore the country’s global reputation … Putin may be putting [his] powers to the test. … analysts say this may be the last chance to start delivering. … Putin … clearly realizes that … approval ratings depend heavily on … public […]

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IMF: Russian Economy Will Contract 0.6 Percent in 2016, Recover In 2017

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – November 30, 2016) The International Monetary Fund said the Russian economy should continue to contract this year, with gross domestic product dropping 0.6 percent, but says it will begin recovering in 2017. The projections from the Washington-based IMF, issued November 29 after a team visited Moscow earlier this month, were roughly in line with other Russian […]

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Russians Toast Recession as Pubgoers Drink ‘Less But Better’

Man in Silhoette with Bottle of Alcohol and Head in Hand

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov, Andrey Lemeshko – November 30, 2016) A staple drink of Russia’s recession comes in different flavors but it’s best consumed standing up. Food is optional. Not a beer country until the arrival a decade ago of a central European tradition of sit-down bars that married brews with hearty meals, Russia is now reveling in […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Maxim Oreshkin

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – November 30, 2016) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Oreshkin, how long have you been working as Deputy Finance Minister now? Maxim Oreshkin: Practically two years. Vladimir Putin: Two years. Before this, you were… Maxim Oreshkin: Department Director at the Finance Ministry, and before that, I was in banking, at VTB and the international bank. Vladimir Putin: You […]

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Russia’s Central Bank Wants You to Believe; Governor Elvira Nabiullina has introduced her own version of forward guidance. The results are mixed.

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – November 29, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-29/russia-s-central-bank-wants-you-to-believe] When central bankers start making predictions about what they’re going to do in the future, reality often has other plans. Just ask Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, or Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Recent attempts at so-called “forward guidance” — telling the public how interest rates […]

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NEWSLINK CNN: “Dining under Putin: How sanctions are fueling a Russian food revolution”

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“Import bans have failed to put the kibosh on Russia’s culinary inventiveness. Restaurants are returning to what Russia does best, such as traditional dishes made with root vegetables such as beetroot.”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Kremlin.ru – November 25, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects to discuss support for non-resource exports and environmental development. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Today we will look into measures to support non-resource exports and to improve the environmental situation in the country. We need to form a […]

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Big Western Companies Are Pumping Cash Into Russia

File Photo of Ikea Store with Russian Language Facade and Shopping Carts

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – November 22, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/bouncing-back-putin-s-shrunken-economy-lures-foreign-investors] Even before the U.S. presidential election raised hopes of warmer ties with the Kremlin, some big Western companies were betting Russia’s economy will soon come out of the deep freeze. Big retailers like Sweden’s Ikea Group and France’s Leroy Merlin SA have begun pumping billions of dollars […]

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RUSSIALINK TASS: “Russia’s economic line after minister’s dismissal to remain unchanged – view” [Andrei Kostin]

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

“The dismissal of Alexei Ulyukayev from position of the economic development minister would not affect the country’s economic line, VTB’s CEO Andrei Kostin said ….”

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NEWSLINK bne Intellinews: “Russia’s Watcom shopping index back at 2015 levels as consumption recovers”

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

“… The Russian shopping footfall index accelerated once again in the 44th week of the year as consumer confidence gathers momentum and the hoi polloi go shopping thanks to a slew of improving (but still far from ideal) macroeconomic indicators, according to the Watcom Shopping index. …”

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Kudrin’s 13 Points about What Russia Must Do to Overcome Its Backwardness

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 21, 2016) At the conclusion of the All-Russian Civic Forum, Aleksey Kudrin, the head of the Civic Initiatives Committee, outlined his ideas about what Russia needs to do over the next 20 years to avoid disaster and return to modernization and democracy. Znak’s Dmitry Kolesev has organized them as 13 theses. […]

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Putin Optimistic About OPEC Deal, Russia Is Ready to Freeze

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – November 21, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin said he sees no obstacles to an OPEC agreement this month after oil exporters made major progress in overcoming differences as he reaffirmed Russia is willing to freeze crude output at current levels. “Whether an agreement will be reached, I can’t say 100 percent, but there’s […]

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How the Russian Economy Hit Rock Bottom

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexandra Prokopenko – November 17, 2016) The decline of the Russian economy has slowed, according to the State Statistics Service. The Economic Development Ministry has stated that gross domestic product rose by just 0.1 percent from the second to the third quarter of 2016. However, it is still too early to talk about a recovery […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/Gazeta.ru: “Kremlin turns to Jewish diaspora in bid to build ties with Donald Trump”

Donald Trump

“Seeking contacts with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the Russian leadership has turned to its connections in Jewish business circles, Gazeta.ru has learned. Despite accusations of xenophobia, Trump maintains good relations with the Jewish community and intends to involve his son-in-law Jared Kushner in his administration.”

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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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NEWSWATCH: “The Fate of Russia’s Liberals” – Stratfor

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

Russia’s economic and political problems are piling up, and they may be putting members of the country’s more liberal circles at risk. In the most high-profile arrest to be made in post-Soviet Russia – and arguably, since the 1950s – Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was detained … on charges of bribery and extortion. … Russian authorities [said] Ulyukayev received $2 […]

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The Loyalty of Fear; Putin sends a message to the elite with the arrest of Russia’s economic development minister

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog, Mikhail Fishman – November 16, 2016) It was an awkward, dramatic national moment for Russia: a bonafide minister of the federal government standing in court as the defendant, facing corruption charges and promising his cooperation to prosecutors, pleading to be released on bail. The hearing ended slightly anticlimactically, with a decision to place […]

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Updates: Russian Economy Minister Ulyukayev Appears in Court on Corruption Charge

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

The longstanding minister has been formally charged on corruption allegations. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 15, 2016) Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has appeared in Moscow’s Baumansky court to face corruption allegations. Ulyukayev was charged with accepting a $2-million bribe on Tuesday, having been arrested by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) late on Monday night. The […]

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