Russia Ranked Among Worst Countries to Be a Pensioner

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 20, 2017) Russia has staked its claim as one of the five worst countries in the world for pensioners, according to a new report. The Natixis Global Retirement Index ranks Russia 40th out of 43 countries worldwide – below Turkey, China, and Mexico. Only Brazil, Greece, and India have an even lower score. Russia […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “Is Vladimir Putin’s big collapse coming soon? Author Richard Lourie talks about how Putin’s failure to wean Russia off oil will destroy the nation’s economy” – Salon/ Richard Lourie / Carrie Sheffield

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

(Salon – July 18, 2017 – from: salon.com/2017/07/18/watch-is-vladimir-putins-big-collapse-coming-soon/) “Salon Talks sat down with Richard Lourie to discuss his book, “Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash.” Lourie argues that Vladimir Putin’s Russia will collapse, just as Imperial Russia did in 1917 and the Soviet Union did in 1991. He cites the Russian president’s failure to move the nation’s economy from […]

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NEWSLINK: “Rising prices and falling savings are Russians’ biggest fears” – bne Intellinews

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“Rising prices and falling savings are currently Russians’ biggest fears, according to the state owned pollster, the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM). … Mounting food prices and declining savings topped the ranking of Russians’ fears in the middle of this year. However, the fears of a military conflict with the west has also been rising steadily, the poll found, reports […]

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Government policy measures could reduce price volatility, inflation expectations – CBR chief

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

ST. PETERSBURG. July 13 (Interfax) – Government policy regarding the development of infrastructure, logistics and competition on food markets, as well as tariff regulation could help to reduce the volatility of prices and lower inflation expectations, Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiullina said at the International Financial Congress. “We need to fight not only with the consequences of shocks for inflation, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Beijing stirs up Russia’s backyard” – bne Intellinews

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

“An invisible wedge has been growing between Russia and its Central Asian neighbours since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine …. The unease is most particularly tangible in Astana. Any statements made by Russian officials that appear to put in question the statehood Kazakhstan gained after it was granted independence from the USSR prompt collective gasps. At the same time, China […]

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NEWSLINK: “Eurasian eyes turn east; Russia is more and more seeing China’s push West as an opportunity rather than a threat” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Asia Map

“… The relationship with the Chinese state began as a trade deal, but it has become progressively more political. It was not for nothing that when Xi Jinping took office in March 2013 his first trip abroad was to Moscow. To escape its blockade by the West, Russia has tried to shape the new emerging economies such as China into […]

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NEWSLINK: “A Look At The Russian Financial Press’ Reports On Trump-Putin Meeting” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

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“The Russian financial press took a rather sobering look at the first meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on Friday, with the two major dailies witnessing the same meeting as most of the American press. Both Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers said the two had good chemistry and spent two hours and 20 minutes together, beyond their scheduled time. […]

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Russia Caught Between Economic Decline and Potentially Explosive Demographic Change

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 5, 2017) Russia’s economic development ministry says that the country’s GDP growth will be approximately half of one percent lower each year because of projected declines in the number of workers in Russia in the coming decades, a decline that the ministry says must be fought by increasing immigration. But any […]

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Article by Vladimir Putin published in the German business newspaper Handelsblatt (re G20)

Map of Germany

(Kremlin.ru – July 6, 2017) Ahead of my trip to Germany to take part in the Summit of the Group of Twenty, I would like to share some thoughts about cooperation within the G20 framework with the readers of Handelsblatt, one of the most popular and reputable German newspapers. Over the years of its existence, the Group of Twenty has […]

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Russian government extends counter-sanctions till end of 2018

EU Map

MOSCOW. July 5 (Interfax) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a resolution extending the ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food, the governmental website said in a report on Wednesday. “The ban on imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from the United States, EU member countries, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin made a lot of promises to Russians on his call-in TV show. Now, he’s delivering.” – Washington Post/David Filipov, Natalya Abbakumova

“… The event, called ‘Direct Line,’ is carefully staged to show that Russia’s head of state, who probably will  seek a new six-year term next March, understands his people — and can solve their problems — better than ­anyone. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “No Thaw Likely at Trump-Putin Meeting” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“Russian officials are cautious about expectations for a fresh start in relations with Washington despite a planned first meeting between … Putin and … Trump next week. … Lavrov expressed hope that ‘pragmatism will prevail.’ But he added that U.S.-Russian relations ‘have become hostage to the internal politics’ inside Washington. * * * Russia continues to chafe under U.S. and Western […]

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Kudrin doesn’t rule out Russia – EU free trade zone “in distant future”

EU Map

MOSCOW. July 3 (Interfax) – The head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has called for intensifying trade cooperation with European countries. “We need to reach a new agreement with EU countries in the future, and in the distant future this could be a free trade zone. If we want to be open […]

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Nearly 40 Percent of Russian Economy Still in Shadow Sector

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 2, 2017) According to the international Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, 39.3 percent of the Russian economy remains in the shadow sector, making Russia one of the leaders in this regard and meaning that 35.55 trillion rubles (600 billion US dollars) of economic activity there are off the books and not […]

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Kremlin’s Claims about Economic Growth Rest on Three Weak Reeds, Russian Experts Say

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 29, 2017) Independent Russian economists say that claims by Moscow officials concerning the supposed growth in Russia’s GDP do not correspond to reality, Russian experts say. Instead, they reflect some statistical sleight of hand, the low base from which any change is calculated, and even the anomalously cold weather of recent […]

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Russia Sticks to Conservative $40 Oil Forecast for 2018 Budget

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 29, 2017) The Russian government is sticking to its conservative assumptions for oil prices as it drafts the budget for the next three years, relying mainly on domestic borrowing to finance the deficit in order to preserve its rainy-day funds. Oil prices are running above the government’s $40-a-barrel forecast, but growing supply […]

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Bondholder’s Dream Beckons as ‘Japanification’ Sweeps Russia

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – June 28, 2017 – Anna Andrianova) From the bondholder’s perspective, Russia has a lot in common with Japan and Italy. That’s a good thing, mostly. An aging population more prone to saving, combined with a “strongly conservative” economy, offer the best mix for fixed-income investors, according to Renaissance Capital. While poor demographics will haunt Russia’s growth […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the bureau of the Russian Engineering Union and the League for Assisting Defence Enterprises of Russia

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

(Kremlin.ru – June 27, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the bureau of the Russian Engineering Union and the League for Assisting Defence Enterprises of Russia. During a meeting on the development of machine building and the military industrial complex at the Kalashnikov Concern. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to welcome […]

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Kennan Cable No.24: Russian Foreign Policy in the Arctic: Balancing Cooperation and Competition

Arctic Map

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Stacy R. Closson, Assistant Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky – June 26, 2017) Introduction The Arctic region presents a particularly interesting case study of Russian foreign policy. In a time when Russia is showing renewed aggression on three fronts – the Baltic Sea region, Syria, and Ukraine – and meddling in […]

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Behind Brave Face on Sanctions, Russia Is Already Adjusting

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 23, 2017) They are only discussed. They may not even be implemented. But the new sanctions under consideration in the U.S. Congress have already become a factor the Bank of Russia can’t ignore. While Governor Elvira Nabiullina dismissed sanctions as having little impact on Russia, the looming threat of wider measures was […]

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Unemployment ranges from 1.5% in Moscow to 27.2% in Ingushetia – Rosstat

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

MOSCOW. June 23 (Interfax) – Russian unemployment in May continued to vary widely by federal district, when the highest rate 3.4 times greater than the lowest, and by region, where the highest was 18 times greater than the lowest, Rosstat reported. Unemployment declined to 5.2% in May from 5.3% in April, 5.4% in March and 5.6% in February and January. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members

Russia Map

(Kremlin.ru – June 22, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members on measures to protect the rights of people involved in shared-equity construction projects and on defining the legal status of self-employed individuals. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we are here to discuss several issues. I would like to start with several matters that […]

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Russians Aren’t Blowing Bigger Wages in Boon to Central Bank

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 21, 2017) There’s less than meets the eye to Russia’s consumer recovery. While real wages grew at the same pace of 3.7 percent in April and May, the most in over three years, retail sales only crawled just above zero after a record 27 months of contraction. The Bank of Russia expects […]

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Rosatom: Climate’s new best friend; As Russia’s economic crisis continues to hit budgets, the country’s state nuclear corporation is going green to raise funds on the international level.

Russian Nuclear Power Plant

(opendemocracy.net – Vladimir Slivyak – June 21, 2017) Vladimir Slivyak is the co-chair of the Russian environmental NGO Ecodefense and has been taking part in UN climate change talks since 1995. The recent St Petersburg International Economic Forum was widely covered by the Russian media, partly because of the eye-catching debates in which president Vladimir Putin himself took part. In […]

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Are Russia And The Saudis Planning A Natural Gas Cartel?

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Cyril Widdershoven – June 18, 2017) The fledgling production cut strategy of OPEC (Saudi Arabia) and non-OPEC (Russia and the FSU) shows that a new strategy is needed to counter the ongoing doubts in the markets. At the same time, Russia and Saudi continue to give indications of a possible OPEC 2.0 scenario, in which a possible Russian […]

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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

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

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Punishing Putin Mostly Means Punishing His Foes; Washington wants more sanctions. But they would further strangle a pro-democracy movement on life support.

Kremlin and River

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 12, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. After being surprised by broad-based protests in late March, the Russian authorities were ready to prevent a repeat on Monday. Police detained hundreds across the country […]

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Russia Just Past Crisis, But Already Up Against Growth Limit

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – June 5 2017) The debate two years ago at President Vladimir Putin’s annual investment showcase in St. Petersburg centered on the direction Russia would take as it moved past the turbulence of oil’s collapse. This time the consensus is that the economy is running aground. Halfway through what’s likely to be the first […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian entrepreneurs wish you’d stop worrying about Putin and start thinking about them” – Washington Post/ David Filipov

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

“… With European governments grappling over whether and how Russian hackers might be attacking their electoral systems, and Washington torn asunder over the question of possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of President Trump’s campaign and administration, the forum presented journalists with a chance to go face to face with Moscow’s principal players. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Vladimir Putin defends Russian economy as reform debate grows. Bullish predictions abound amid debate among advisers” – Financial Times

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“Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of Russia’s struggling economy … as a fierce debate rages among his advisers over the pace and direction of reforms ahead of next year’s elections. … Putin, who is expected to run for a fourth term, said that after two years of recession Russia was entering a “new phase of growth” and forecast that inflation would dip […]

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Russian ex-finance minister says no plans to rejoin government

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – June 2, 2017) Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said he has no plans to rejoin the government. Kudrin, a widely respected liberal economist who now heads the Centre for Strategic Research (CSR), made his comments at the St Petersburg Economic Forum on 2 June, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported that day. “I’m an expert right […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Says Still Likely to Back Paris Climate Deal Despite U.S. Withdrawal” – Reuters

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

“… #Russia has signed the Paris climate pact but is the biggest emitter of global greenhouse gases not to have yet ratified it. Russian officials have said they need more time to assess its potential impact on their economy and have spoken of drafting a strategy for low-carbon development, fuelling fears among green campaigners Moscow may not ratify the agreement. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Igor Shuvalov: Future of Russia Lies in Consolidation and Progress” – Valdai/ Igor Shuvalov

Igor Shuvalov file photo

“The wealth of Russia is based not only on securing the needs of the domestic market, but primarily on the openness, Igor Shuvalov told journalists at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. …”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with RDIF International Advisory Board members and investment community representatives

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

(Kremlin.ru – June 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with members of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) International Advisory Board and representatives of the international investment community. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon friends, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for coming to Russia and meeting together in St Petersburg again. I must say that many […]

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NEWSLINK: “How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short” – Yahoo News/ Michael Isikoff

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

“In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events. …”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with heads of international news agencies

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

(Kremlin.ru – June 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin began his work at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum by meeting with the heads of international news agencies. Taking part in the meeting were President of EFE (Spain) Jose Antonio Vera, Editor-in-Chief of PTI (India) Vijay Joshi, Vice President of Kyodo News (Japan) Juno Kondo, General Director of DPA (Germany) Peter Kropsch, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Beyond the Recession, More Problems Await Russia” – Strafor

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“As the Russian economy slowly pulls out of recession, low oil prices will keep it stagnant for years to come. Nonetheless, the recovery, and the return of foreign investment, will alleviate some of the Kremlin’s concerns about the economic sanctions against it.  The Russian government, meanwhile, will grow increasingly worried about the people’s economic hardships as gubernatorial and presidential elections approach. […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Companies To Talk Business With Putin In St. Petersburg” – Forbes/ Nabi Abdullaev

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“After several years of low attendance, during which the Obama administration actively discouraged US businesses from participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s largest international business gala, this year sees the return of American companies in sufficient numbers to run a separate U.S.-Russia roundtable for the first time in the forum’s history. …”

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “U.S. shale, trade and sanctions worry Russian Finance minister as economy gets back on track” – CNBC/ Geoff Cutmore, Alexandra Gibbs

Anton Siluanov file photo

[Scroll down for embedded video] “… Following last week’s decision by oil producers to extend output cuts by nine months to March 2018, Siluanov told CNBC that OPEC’s decisions would give opportunity [sic] for prices to stay at present levels, but that both producers and the ministry had to be on alert for any market changes. …” ‘On the one […]

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A New Threat to the Kremlin: Russians’ Incomes Not Keeping Pace with Their Expectations

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 25, 2017) In every federal district except the Far East, Russians say they need more money for “a normal life” than their current incomes, a situation that reflects stagnating wages and salaries and rising prices and one, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say, that represents an increasingly serious political threat to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Best To Assume Russia Sanctions Last Forever” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… the G-20 meeting this June … will be the first time [Trump and Putin] meet, and that could give us the official, presidential word on sanctions. …”

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

Boris Titov file photo

(Kremlin.ru – May 26, 2017) Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov presented his annual report to the President. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Titov. Have you brought your annual report? Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov: Yes, Mr President. Time flies. We are completing the first five-year period in our work. Five years ago, you made a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Rallies: 1.3% GDP Growth, $55 Oil, World Bank Says; The Russian ruble is strengthening today on solid economic growth targets from the World Bank” – Barrons/ Dimitra DeFotis

World Bank Building

“Russia’s economy can expand at a 1.3% pace in 2017 and by 1.4% in 2018 and 2019, the World Bank said …. The ruble is strengthening … up 0.7% against the U.S. dollar, and Russian equities are rallying in Moscow. The VanEck Vectors Russia exchange-traded fund (RSX) is higher by 0.5% … as are the U.S.-traded shares of Sberbank Rossia (SBRCY). Moody’s […]

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NEWSLINK: “2017 Global 2000: These Are The Largest Companies In Russia” – Forbes

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

“… Aside from boasting hefty ownership stakes from the Russian government, Gazprom and Sberbank are also the number-one and -two companies in country. Gazprom, which holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves ranked #40 on the overall Global 2000, up from #53 in 2016. The jump in ranking came in part because of the company’s profit, which surged from $4.9 […]

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IMF Sees Russian Economy Moving Out Of Recession, Inflation Slowing

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(©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. Article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-imf-ecomomy-recession/28498056.html – May 19, 2017) The International Monetary Fund said Russia’s economy will rebound this year after a two-year recession and inflation should slow to the central bank’s target amid diminished short-term risks from volatile oil prices and financial markets. Russia’s economy should expand 1.4 percent this year, the Washington-based IMF said on May […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy is recovering well” – CNN

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“[Russia] is recovering nicely from a recession and should see economic growth of 1.4% this year, according to [the IMF] … Russia is heavily dependent on oil exports and was hit hard when crude prices started to crash in 2014. Economic sanctions imposed by Western governments as punishment for Russia taking control of Ukraine’s Crimea region dealt the economy another blow. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Replies to journalists’ questions (transcript continued)

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

(Kremlin.ru – May 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin answered media questions following a working visit to the People’s Republic of China. Question: Mr President, an international cyberattack was reported on May 12. It hit targets in 150 countries, including agencies, banks and companies in Russia. How much has this attack harmed Russia and the world in general? What can be done […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A CHINESE SILK NOOSE” – Valdai Club/ Georgy Toloraya

Asia Map

“… In response to the Chinese initiative, Russia advanced an even more ambitious project of a Greater Eurasian Partnership … incorporate[ing] the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). … However, Russia lacks the resources and integration ties with the numerous countries of the Euro-Pacific space for implementing this ambitious […]

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Thousands Protest In Moscow Against Plan To Raze Soviet-Era Housing

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – May 14, 2017 – ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. Article also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-moscow-protests-demolition-krushchev-era-housing/28487244.html) MOSCOW — Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Moscow to protest the proposed demolitions of Soviet-era housing blocks in the Russian capital. The May 14 protest, held on a wide central Moscow street named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, marked […]

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