Half of Russians Now Blame Putin for Russia’s Problems — But Most Support Him Anyway

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 11, 2017) Forty-nine percent of Russians say that Vladimir Putin is responsible for the problems Russia faces, up by nine percent over the last year, a Levada Center poll finds (politsovet.ru/57449-polovina-rossiyan-schitaet-putina-prichinoy-problem-v-strane.html https://www.levada.ru/2017/12/11/17232/). Slightly fewer – 45 percent – blame the government, and fewer still blame Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an indication […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putinomics Loses Its Power in Russia” – Bloomberg/ Anna Andrianova, Evgenia Pismennaya

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s traditionally boom-and-bust economy risks something it hasn’t yet endured during President Vladimir Putin’s rule — stagnation. The economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter is stalling without enough investment after draining Putin’s old growth model, based on channeling income from sales of oil and gas into domestic demand and riding a consumption boom that followed. After almost two decades […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Criticizes Germany’s Support of New Russian Natural Gas Line; Top state department official praises Denmark for passing law that could hamper pipeline project” – Wall Street Journal/ Paul Sonne

Gas Flame file photo

“[Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs A. Wess Mitchell] offered harsh words … for Germany over the country’s continued support for a new Russian gas pipeline to Europe … known as Nord Stream 2 … a wholly owned subsidiary of Russian state energy giant Gazprom [that] would double Russia’s export capacity … adding a second link between Russia and Germany. * […]

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NEWSLINK: “Silk Road fever grips the Russian Far East and boosts economy; China’s Belt and Road Initiative heralds a new era with mega infrastructure projects dotting the landscape” – Asia Times

Asia Map

“… [a] new state-of-the-art $1.5 billion Bystrinsky plant … [l]ocated about 400 kilometers from the Chinese border by rail and tucked inside the Trans-Baikal region of Siberian … is now finally open for business. This mining and processing complex … contains up to 343 million tonnes of ore reserves … a joint venture between Russian and Chinese companies. …”

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Debt and poverty: the thriving business of high-risk moneylenders in Russia; In Russia, loansharks and payday lenders masquerade as “microfinance” organisations to attract clients. But for many people, short-term loans are a way of life.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(opendemocracy.net – Ewa Dabrowska – December 12, 2017) Ewa Dąbrowska is PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam. She focuses on the Russian financial system and microfinance in the post-Soviet space. “Avoid multiple loans. With several loans you are at greater risk of over-indebtedness,” warns the Warsaw-based Microfinance Center in a recent education campaign directed at users of microcredits in […]

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Recession Recoveries In Russia, Brazil Help Lift World Growth To Six-Year High

File Photo of UN Building with Flags

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – December 12, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/recession-recoveries-russia-brazil-help-lift-world-growth-six-year-high-3-percent-2011/28911154.html) World economic growth rose this year to 3 percent, the strongest rate since 2011, aided by recoveries from recession in Russia, Brazil, Argentina, and NIgeria, the United Nations has estimated. In its annual report on global growth on December 11, the UN […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian PM says poverty is ‘glaring problem’ in country” – AFP

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

“… Medvedev … said poverty remained a ‘glaring problem’ in [Russia], where presidential elections are due to be held next year. ‘Poverty is, of course, one of the glaring problems of our modern economy,’ Medvedev said … ‘When the economy is weak, it’s impossible for there not to be any poor people’, Medvedev said …. A World Bank report … said that […]

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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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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow” – Carnegie Moscow/ Andrey Pertsev

Russia Regions Map

“Russian regional leaders are rediscovering their power and their ability to fight with Moscow over budgets and autonomy. Discontent over Moscow siphoning off regional funds has reached a breaking point, while Tatarstan is in a new contest with the center over regional language rights. …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Gazprom spends big to keep trillion dollar dream alive; Russian gas exporter ramps up borrowing and raids cashpile to maintain growth” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

Gas Facility file photo

“In an effort to fight back, Gazprom is …. [r]amping up borrowing and raiding its … cash pile … splurging on critical new infrastructure …. it announced that it expected to spend 24 per cent more this year on long-term investment, capital expenditure and acquisitions previously forecast. … next year’s spending [is projected to] hit a record Rbs 1.28tn ($22bn), up 13 per cent on […]

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Russia’s Optimistic GDP Projections Fall Shy of Targets; The government’s GDP target was undermined by disappointing third-quarter GDP numbers and industrial output stumbling in the fall

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 29, 2017) [Text with chart themoscowtimes.com/articles/russias-optimistic-gdp-projection-falls-short-of-targets-59734] Russia’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.9 percent in 2017 and 2018 in the latest outlook published by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Nov. 28. The OECD’s optimistic forecast is almost in line with 2-2.1 percent official government’s target, which was recently undermined […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Business ombudsman Boris Titov to run for president” – bne Intellinews/ Vadim Dumes

Boris Titov file photo

“Russian business ombudsman Boris Titov will run for president in the 2018 election, representing the business-oriented Party of Growth …. [running] on the ‘Growth Strategy’ program developed by the Stolypin Club … unlikely to become a serious competitor … [but he] could bring pressing economic issues [to] the forefront …. * * * … the greatest other threat to [Putin’s] re-election is perhaps public apathy […]

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Kudrin says govt studying his proposals at Putin’s instructions

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 25 (Interfax) – Alexei Kudrin, head of the Center of Strategic Research and Committee of Civic Initiatives and former Russian finance minister, says President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to analyze his proposals on Russia’s development strategy. “I reported the key provisions of our proposals on the country’s development strategy to him. That primarily concerns the budget […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin in the Boot; New sanctions are about to bite, and Russia’s elite are spooked; The personal sanctions against regime cronies are especially tough” – The Economist

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

“… CAATSA moderately increases the pressure …. It extends the restrictions on investing in new Russian oil and gas projects to the operations of Russian firms in third countries. … the effectiveness of these new sanctions, which the administration is allowed to pause until late January, is undermined by the fact that European firms have been ring-fenced from their effects. Gazprom … has […]

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Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension

Gas Facility file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – November 21, 2017) While OPEC is said to be mostly leaning toward a 9-month extension of the production cuts, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak and major Russian oil companies discussed last week a six-month extension after March 2018, and all but one company said they were ready to extend, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on […]

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Russian Labor Official Tells Russians to Stop Partying and Start Working

File Image of Artist's Rendition of Champagne Glasses

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 22, 2017) Russians should spend more time at work if they want to be successful, the head of Rostrud, Russia’s Federal Labor and Employment Service, says. Next year, Russia will have 28 official national holidays. They include 10 days in early January when Russians celebrate the Orthodox Christmas and the country traditionally grinds to […]

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The Good Russians: Poorest Give to Others Even When They Don’t Have Enough to Eat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 23, 2017) One of the many things those Russian officials and their allies who condemn any critic of the Russian government as a Russophobe don’t understand is that the objects of such attacks make a distinction they do not – between the horrific government and the many good Russians who suffer […]

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Interfax: Russia’s defense spending tops 5.3% of GDP, near $70 bln – PwC

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Russia ranks seventh among the world’s major defense-industry players, with defense expenditures totaling $69.2 billion, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a statement regarding its second Global Defense Perspectives report. In the current rating, Russia occupies seventh place; its defense expenditures amount to 5.32% of GDP and total $69.2 billion. It has moved up one position since […]

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Looming Demographic Collapse Now ‘Main Threat to Russian National Security,’ Health Expert Says

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 14, 2017) The situation with regard to Russia’s birthrate is much worse than officials say, Igor Gundarov says. It is not easily correctible as some think but rather reflects a “cascading demographic” decline that now represents the main threat to the national security” of the country. The specialist on health care […]

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NEWSWATCH: “GDP growth in Russia disappointingly slows” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s GDP growth disappointed on the down side as the July-September numbers came in well below the government expectation at 1.2%, making the annual GDP growth of 1.8%. The government had been expecting 2.2%. * * * … [and] Russia’s GDP growth has been achieved against the backdrop of rather shaky industrial output. …” Click here for: “GDP growth in Russia […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting wrapped up in Vietnam; [Putin meeting with Russian and foreign journalists]” – KremlinRu

Map of Asia-Pacific Highlighting APEC Member States

(kremlin.ru – Nov. 11, 2017) The 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting ended in Danang. On the second day of the Meeting, the APEC leaders reviewed the prospects for the global economy with Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde. During the business breakfast, a discussion was held on establishing an Asia-Pacific free trade zone and a possible expansion […]

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Russia Unfazed By U.S. Oil Sanctions

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – November 9, 2017) Western energy sanctions vis-à-vis Russia have become a steady phenomenon of the global oil and gas market. Most Russian oil companies don’t expect sanctions to be scrapped anytime soon-an assessment espoused by the political elites of the country, too. The sides even seem to have resigned their minds to the current frosty […]

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Interfax: Russia’s GDP growth to exceed 2% in 2017 – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

MANILA. Nov 13 (Interfax) – The Russian government is expecting 2017’s GDP growth to exceed 2%, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a session of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 (ABIS 2017). “We saw positive changes both last and this year, and our recovery growth has been rather good. We are expecting the Russian GDP to increase […]

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Russia’s Regions Ask Moscow for Financial Help

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vladimir Kozlov – November 7, 2017) Against a backdrop of the Russian economy gradually coming out of recession and oil prices on the rise, the country’s far-flung regions have been feeling financial strain and are now asking the center for help. Udmurtia, a small republic east of Moscow, and its newly appointed governor Alexander Brechalov […]

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Two-Thirds of Russia’s Villages have Disappeared or Soon Will, Statistics Show

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 5, 2017) Most discussions of migration in Russia focus on the arrival of gastarbeiters from Central Asia, the Caucasus or elsewhere; but two other population flows may be even more important for the country’s future: the flight from villages to the cities and the exit of people from the north and […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANCRIPT: “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia Moscow, October 31, 2017” – Russian Foreign Ministry

Sergei Lavrov file photo » Read more

Welcome to Gdov, where Russia comes to an end; Russia’s westernmost district is dying out – and with it, hopes for the country’s rebirth.

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Sergey Damberg – November 1, 2017) Sergey Damberg is a sociologist and graduate of St Petersburg and Bielefeld universities. He directs the Expertise sociological bureau, and is a researcher at Centre for Independent Social Research. In 2014-2015, Damberg was the general manager of Pskov Drama theatre. Together with Russian sociologist Sergey Damberg, we start a new column series […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia moves up to 35th place in the World Bank’s annual ‘Doing Business’ index” – bne Intellinews

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

“… Russia is ranked 35th in the 2018 issue of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 report published on October 31, moving up five places …. Another international rating, the 2017 Economic Freedom Index compiled by the Heritage Foundation in February, placed Russia in the 114th position in the ‘Mostly Unfree’ category … with a score of 57.1 of 100. … the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool” – New York Times/ Clifford Krauss

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

“Russia is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading … influence … and challenging the interests of the United States. … Moscow risks running into trouble … lend[ing] money and mak[ing] deals in turbulent economies and shaky political climates. The strategy faces a crucial test this week in Venezuela, a Russian ally that must come up with a billion dollars to avert […]

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NEWSWATCH: “What Does Putin Want? To Maintain His Power No Matter What; A big win for Putin in the March election would be a victory for the Russian autocratic state.” – NBC/ William Pomeranz

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

“In Russia … [elections] are acts of confirmation: The only real suspense … is whether … Putin will receive 70 percent or 80 percent …. Putin … surely understands that reform is the moment of greatest vulnerability for a Russian leader (just ask … Gorbachev). … Putin’s intent is always to maintain control, as recent prosecutions attest. * * * … At the top of […]

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Russia to increase salmon aquaculture

Spawning Salmon File Image, adapted from image at fws.gov

(The Fish Site – thefishsite.com – Jaroslaw Adamowski – October 30, 2017) Russia’s largest farmed fish producer, Russian Aquaculture, is developing its farm network across the country at a time when the country’s authorities are making increased efforts to develop the sector and reduce their dependency on fish imports. Russian Aquaculture currently owns cultivation rights for 30 salmon and trout sites […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic recovery not enough for higher rating: Moody’s” – Reuters/ Andrey Ostroukh

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Economic recovery in Russia is not strong enough to convince Moody’s rating agency to upgrade its sovereign credit rating as the country still lacks sufficient structural reform …. Moody’s downgraded Russia’s rating to below investment grade in early 2015 as Russia’s economy slipped into recession amid a rapid drop in oil prices and Western sanctions … over [Russia’s] role in the Ukrainian […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin Disappoints Investors With Quick Exit From Moscow Forum” – Bloomberg/ Ksenia Galouchko, Jake Rudnitsky, Andrey Biryukov, Anna Baraulina

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

“… Putin left some guests at Moscow’s main investment forum surprised and disappointed after he broke with his tradition of taking questions from the audience and left after a brief speech. After comments that lasted about 12 minutes at a panel at the VTB Capital Forum on Tuesday, Putin left the stage, leaving behind the sanctioned lender’s Chief Executive Officer Andrey […]

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Republic: The Diagnosis after Three Years of Crisis, or Why the Russian Economy Survived

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Oct. 20, 2017 [from “Russian media roundup, October 13-20, 2017”]) At the turn of 2014-2015, it was uncertain as to whether the Russian economy would emerge standing. Yakov Mirkin, the head of International Capital Markets Department Institute of World Economy and International Relations, lists seven reasons to explain what saved the Russian economy […]

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Russia Goes All In On Arctic Oil Development

Arctic Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – October 19, 2017) Neither sanctions nor persistently low oil prices are hindering Russia’s ambitions or plans to develop oil resources in its sections of the Arctic. In April, state-controlled oil giant Rosneft started drilling the northernmost well on the Russian Arctic shelf in the Khatangsky license area in the Laptev Sea. In June, Rosneft struck […]

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Interfax: Oreshkin sees positive foreign investor sentiment regarding Russian economy recovery

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – GORKY, Oct. 16) Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said he saw positive sentiment among foreign investors regarding a recovery in the Russian economy. “Today’s meeting was definitely characterized by overall positive sentiment regarding the fact that the Russian economy has begun to recover and that economic growth has taken off. Companies feel this in their financials,” Oreshkin […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Waking the Russian Spirit of Urbanism; Urban renewal could become a new doctrine of patriotism” – Moscow Times/ Sergei Kapkov

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

“… They’ve looked around and realized that Russian cities are not nearly as beautiful as they could be, and in addition to amusement park rides and shish kebab stands, they can build skate parks and dance floors. And the harsh Russian climate is no obstacle to developing urban cycling. …”  

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The Evolution of Homo Sovieticus to Putin’s Man; The tumultuous decades have left their mark on Russians’ inner life

File Photo of Crowd in Russia Including Person Waving Russian Flag with Eagle

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog, Lev Gudkov – October 13, 2017) [Text with charts themoscowtimes.com/articles/the-evolution-of-homo-sovieticus-to-putins-man-59189] Lev Gudkov remembers sitting in his Moscow office as a young sociologist, surrounded by stacks of letters. It was 1989, and for the first time after decades of hushed conversation around kitchen tables, Russians had been asked for their opinions on a range […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Soccer Defeat Is a Loss for Russia. In place of a flood of U.S. travelers for next year’s World Cup, a trickle of Panamanians.” – Wall Street Journal

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at fbi.gov

“… a fresh setback for U.S.-Russia relations: The U.S. men’s soccer team fell to Trinidad and Tobago … and … failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in three decades. For Russia, hosting the quadrennial event in 2018 … missing out on an influx of rich American tourists …. [A past study by two economists suggests] the tourism boost from […]

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NEWSLINK: “This is as good as it gets” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“This is as good as it gets. That was the conclusion of Fitch Ratings’ Global Economic Outlook for September 2017. The global economy is in a bit of a sweet spot as the bounce-back growth is strong and the last of the 2008 crash effects are fading away. Commodities prices are high and growth in both developed and emerging markets […]

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Painting The Kremlin Facade

Kremlin and River

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Oct. 9, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-putin-65-brezhnev/28782055.html) So Vladimir Putin turned 65 this past weekend, which, incidentally, is longer than 43 percent of Russian men can expect to live according to a new World Bank report. Last month, he surpassed Leonid Brezhnev and became Russia’s longest ruling leader since […]

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NEWSWATCH: “OPEC Pushes Russia to Continue Helping on Oil Prices” – Wall Street Journal/ Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, Nathan Hodge

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

As King Salman becomes the first Saudi Monarch to visit Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by OPEC to keep Russia in an ad hoc coalition to suppress global oil production. “Saudi Arabia and OPEC are lobbying Russia to stay on board with their efforts to raise oil prices, amid signals that Moscow wants to end its participation in costly […]

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RUSSIALINK: “[Putin at] Russian Energy Week Forum plenary session” – KremlinRu

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

[This excerpt includes only the comments by Putin] [Click here for Q&A and video with English interpretation: en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/55767] Vladimir Putin attended a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week (REW) Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum. Following the plenary session, Vladimir Putin had a brief meeting with foreign guests of the Russian Energy Week who arrived in Moscow to […]

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Putin Budget Points to Another Lost Decade for Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4m 2017) The three-year budget the Russian government has proposed suggests that Russia will continue to stagnate, poverty will continue to grow, and the country will fall further and further behind the developed world and even its nearest neighbors, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. In a lead article today, […]

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The Best Quotes From Putin at the Russian Energy Week Forum

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2017) President Vladimir Putin took part in the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on Wednesday, where he spoke about North Korea, his relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and electric cars. Here are some of the highlights: On the elections next year – “I haven’t decided whether I’m going to run at […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘No miracles’: labor shortage set to hit Russia’s GDP” – Reuters/Denis Pinchuk, Maria Kiselyova

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“A dearth of young people joining Russia’s workforce because of a low birth rate will shave several percent off potential economic growth in the next five to six years, Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin said. … the labour shortage made it hard for technology companies, among others, to recruit staff they need …. * * * ‘To a large extent economic growth […]

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Interfax: Russian authorities know how to address gap between rich, poor – Putin

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The widening gap between the rich and the poor is “a real problem” for Russia, but there is an understanding how to address it, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “With regard to the ‘scissors’ between rich and low-income people. This is a real problem on which we definitely should be working,” Putin said at the […]

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