NEWSWATCH: “The Surprising Success of Putinomics; Behind Putin’s Formula for Holding Onto Power” – Foreign Affairs/Chris Miller

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia survived the twin challenges of the oil price crash and Western sanctions thanks to a three-pronged economic strategy. First, it focused on macroeconomic stability-keeping debt levels and inflation low-above all else. Second, it prevented popular discontent by guaranteeing low unemployment and steady pensions, even at the expense of higher wages or economic growth. Third, it let the private […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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NEWSLINK: “The Low Energy Superpower: Russia’s Dim Growth Prospects” – Bear Market Blog/Joseph Webster

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Few Russians are nostalgic for the nightmarish 1990s, a time when GDP fell by approximately 40%, inflation skyrocketed, and life expectancies tumbled. While history doesn’t repeat itself, it often rhymes: Russia won’t relive the nightmarish 1990s, but the pattern of declining living standards in contemporary Russia increasingly resembles the last decade of the 20th century. Russia will likely suffer a […]

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Russia Struggling To Expand Arctic Oil Production

Arctic Satellite Image and Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – January 30, 2018) Oil production from Russia’s Arctic region increased in 2017 as new onshore developments and the only offshore producing platform ramped up production. But challenges in Russia’s arctic remain. Last year, production from onshore fields in Yamal-Nenets autonomous region in northern Russia contributed the most to the rise in oil production in the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin: From Oligarch to Kleptocrat” – New York Review of Books/Ruth May

Vladimir Putin

“… Putin’s real intention—and not from the day he entered the Kremlin, but from the day he left Dresden—was to reassert the authority of the autocratic state. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia global top oil producer in November” – bne Intellinews

Oil Well file photo

“Russia produced an average of 10.12mn barrels of oil daily in November 2017, down from 10.86 a month earlier[,] but … is still the world’s top oil producer in the reporting month … Rosstat [says]. … followed by Saudi Arabia with 9.9mn barrels of average daily oil output. The combined output of the Opec states amounted to 32mn barrels in […]

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Interfax: Sovereign debt sanctions may cause brief volatility, no real effect on economy, financial stability – Nabiullina

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

ROSTOV-ON-DON. Feb 1 (Interfax) – U.S. sanctions targeting Russian sovereign debt, if introduced, might lead to short-term volatility on the sovereign debt market, but would not have a substantial effect on the economy or financial stability, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said. “We saw this risk previously, we see it now. We evaluated it, evaluated the effect of two possible […]

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Investors Take U.S. List Of Russian ‘Oligarchs’ In Stride — For Now

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

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – January 30, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-investors-brush-off-us-treasury-oligarchs-list/29007996.html) For months Russia’s business and political elite were fretting about the planned release of a U.S. list of potential Russian targets for fresh sanctions — including government officials and “oligarchs” purportedly close to the Kremlin. After that unclassified list […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia and Ukraine: More similar than either wants to admit” – bne Intellinews/Anders Åslund

“… Russians see themselves as economically superior while Ukrainians cherish their freedom. Yet … economically the similarities are greater than the differences. Their current fundamental problem is their absence of real property rights. … Russia experienced an attempt at serious market economic reform from 1991-94 … avoid[ing] Ukraine’s … hyperinflation in 1993. While Russia’s situation was bad, Ukraine’s was far […]

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Few Russians Think ‘Era of Oligarchs’ is Over

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 28, 2018) At Davos, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that there aren’t any oligarchs left in Russia, a declaration that has attracted a great deal of attention both in Russia and abroad but very little support among Russians who continue to see oligarchs as an evil force in their […]

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Russia’s Brain Drain on the Rise Over Economic Woes – Report

Artist's Rendition of Head and Brain, adapted from .gov image at lbl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 24, 2018) An increasing number of educated Russians are leaving the country for economic and political reasons, according to researchers at a prestigious Russian state university. Researchers at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) conducted interviews with Russian emigrants abroad and cited statistics from countries receiving them. Previous reports […]

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NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Sanctions Would Be ‘Economic War’ to Head of Russia’s VTB; Personal sanctions would be preferable to institutional ones, Kostin says” – Bloomberg/Jake Rudnitsky, Francine Lacqua

VTB Bank File Photo

“As Moscow braces for a possible expansion of U.S. sanctions, the head of Russia’s second-biggest bank said any further restrictions on the nation’s lenders would be tantamount to ‘economic war.’  * * * While VTB has been subject to restrictions on raising financing since 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, new sanctions could go as far as cutting off […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Won’t Tell Voters How He’ll Pay for Domestic Spending” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… offering Russians the biggest increase in domestic spending in years … what [Putin] won’t be talking much about is the package of tax hikes, benefit cuts and other changes … to help pay for [it] … possible increases to the pension age and the income tax … cuts in tax breaks for staples like food … [and] co-pays for […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia faces 6 more years of stagnation under Putin” – CNN/ Alanna Petroff

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russian President Vladimir Putin looks set to win re-election in March, extending his stay in the Kremlin to 2024. For Russia’s economy, that likely means six more years of anemic growth. …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members – KremlinRu

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – January 16, 2018) Vladimir Putin held the first meeting with Government members this year. Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov reported to the meeting participants on passenger air and rail transportation volumes during the New Year holidays and over 2017. Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov reported on the growth of domestic, inbound and outbound tourist […]

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RUSSIALINK: “The 9th Gaidar Forum; The 2018 Gaidar Forum’s main theme is Russia and the World: Values and Virtues. [speech by Dmitry Medvedev]” – GovernmentRu

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – January 16, 2018) The Gaidar Forum is an ongoing discussion platform for pressing current issues. The forum has been held annually since 2010 in memory of Yegor Gaidar, a researcher, economist and ideologist of the early 1990s reforms in Russia. Forum discussions centre on Russia’s place and strategic role in the world. Among forum moderators are high-ranking politicians […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Weighs Biggest Spending Spree Since Putin’s Re-Election” – Bloomberg/Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Russia’s government is discussing a proposal to turn on the fiscal taps in what would be the biggest domestic spending spree since President Vladimir Putin last ran for re-election in 2012. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian economy suddenly shrinks in November” – Reuters

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s economy unexpectedly contracted in November, hit by a drop in industrial production, the economy ministry said …. Gross domestic product shrank 0.3 percent year on year in November, the economy ministry said, contrasting with analysts’ consensus call for a 1.5 percent growth. Russia’s oil-dependent economy was on the mend in 2017 after two years of recession, triggered by a […]

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Russian Workers an ‘Invisible Class’ Since Collapse of Soviet Union, New Study Concludes

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 11, 2018) Russians employed in factories have become “an invisible group” in society since 1991; and as a result, the identity even now is based largely on memories of the Soviet past as exacerbated by their sense of growing social inequality, according to a new study by the Higher School of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Break From a Recession Was Fleeting” – Bloomberg/ Anna Andrianova

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“After suffering its longest economic contraction this century, Russia may just have had the shortest recovery. JPMorgan Chase & Co. says the world’s biggest energy exporter probably capped last year with two consecutive quarters of contraction — or a technical recession — a surprise cooldown that ranged from struggling consumer spending to a flop in industrial output. …”

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Visit to Tver Carriage Works” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – January 10, 2018) During his working trip to the Tver Region, Vladimir Putin visited Tver Carriage Works, where he was informed about the plant’s operation and shown its finished products. The plant’s General Director Andrei Solovei informed the President about its performance indicators and the efficiency of the government support measures. Vladimir Putin visited a number of shops […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Outlook 2018” – Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia needs a new economic model and 2018 is the year that one will be chosen – or not. First the country needs to get through a presidential election in March (that will almost certainly be won by president Vladimir Putin). After that the Kremlin will turn to making reforms, but the effects of any reforms that do happen are […]

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Forcing Repatriation of Funds Won’t Solve Russia’s Economic Problem, Gontmakher Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 28, 2017) Many including some in the Kremlin believe that forcing oligarchs to repatriate the money they have sheltered abroad will go a long way to solve Russia’s economic problems, Yevgeny Gontmakher says; but they are wrong: far more will have to happen for any money returned to make a major […]

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The Worse Russians Live, The Happier They Are, VTsIOM Poll Suggests

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Staunton, December 23, 2017) According to a poll conducted by the VTsIOM agency, Russians now have begun to feel even happier than they did before the onset of the crisis as measured by the different between those who tell sociologists that they are happy and those who say they are not. Valery Fedorov, the head of VTsIOM, […]

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85 Percent of Poor Russian Cities Located in Europe, Research Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 22, 2017) More than four out of five large Russian cities dependent on Moscow’s financial assistance are located in European Russia, according to new research by the Strelka Consulting Bureau. Russia’s so-called “Robin Hood” tax system subsidizes the nation’s poorer regions by reallocating tax revenues from wealthier regions. A mere 14 of 85 Russian […]

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Putin signs decree on state policy to develop competition

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. Dec 21 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on the main focus of state policy to develop competition, the Kremlin said in a press statement. “With the goals of strengthening the national economy, the future development of competition and not allowing monopoly activity, I hereby order that active assistance to develop competition in Russia be […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kennan Cable No. 29: U.S. Sanctions Law and Western Coordination on Russia Policy” – Kennan Institute/ Dominik Tolksdorf

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

“The United States and the European Union have coordinated their sanctions against Russia for more than three years. In July 2017 the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed additional sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea that were signed into law by President Trump on August 2. The legislation was drafted in the context of the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. […]

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Putin Offers Debt Relief to 42 Million Russians Before Elections

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s draft proposal to provide debt relief to a third of the Russian population before next year’s presidential elections is breezing its way through the Russian parliament. Kremlin officials are hoping for a 70 percent turnout with 70 percent of votes cast for Putin as president. A Levada poll published earlier […]

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

Putin Descending a Staircase

(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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