Russia’s Oil Sector Is Facing A Massive Tax Overhaul

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – June 11, 2018) A major tax overhaul in Russia’s oil industry is about to start pressuring the earnings of major oil companies. Refiners will be hit hardest as the overhaul will increase the tax burden on downstream operations while the upstream sector will see taxes shift from production-based to profit-based. Last week, the Finance and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Londongrad oligarchs are being forced back to Russia’s embrace; As sanctions bite, tycoons feel hemmed in by Vladimir Putin’s power” – Financial Times/Max Seddon

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

“…. once ideal go-betweens between Russia and the west. … [s]uddenly, oligarchs are too Russian for a west eager to clean up its act and too western for a Russia hunting for ‘enemies of the people.’ … the nature of oligarchy … has changed dramatically …. Putin shifted the power dynamic …. under an unwritten rule: they were allowed to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “American Businesses in Russia Are Struggling After U.S. Sanctions, Survey Says” – Moscow Times

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U.S. sanctions have created new difficulties for American businesses working in Russia, a recent survey of companies has said. Last month, the United States sanctioned several Russian companies and businessmen for alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other “malign activities.” Russia vowed to inflict “precise and painful” damage to the U.S. in response, this week passing a bill […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s finance minister promises no new taxes, but hints at ‘adjustments'” – Meduza

Anton Siluanov file photo

“… Siluanov says Russia has no plans to change its tax system in the next six years, but there will be ‘adjustments.’ … the government is once again considering measures to simplify the tax code, in order to encourage more businesspeople to stop working in the economy’s ‘gray sector’ …. Russian media has repeatedly said the government is discussing major […]

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Putin vs. Pensions: Will His Reelection Finally Free Him To Tackle Looming Crisis?

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – May 16, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-vs-pensions-will-his-reelection-finally-free-him-to-tackle-looming-crisis-/29229857.html) It’s been the third rail of Russian politics for years, if not decades, but now an increasingly fragile economy appears to have forced the Kremlin to finally reckon with the country’s pension crisis. Russia’s pension system — […]

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Putin: Russia Looks To Get Free Of U.S. Dollar ‘Burden’ In Oil Trade

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – May 9, 2018) Russia is mulling over ways to ‘get free’ of the U.S. dollar burden in oil trade as part of a plan to boost its national economic sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Oil is traded in dollars on the exchange,” TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying. “Certainly, we are thinking about […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Bondageddon” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

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

“Russian assets are nuclear toxic waste again. On April 6 the U.S. Treasury Department … released a new set of targeted sanctions aimed at some of Russia’s biggest businessmen and their companies, and unleashed chaos on the markets. Russian assets were hot until the new sanctions, with foreign investors piling into Russia’s sovereign ruble-denominated debt as one of the best […]

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Russians Not Turning on Kremlin Even as Latest US Sanctions Bite

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jamie Dettmer – April 30, 2018) The latest U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia earlier this month targeting two dozen Kremlin insiders and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and their companies are proving more painful than had been expected, say analysts. But they’re doing nothing at this stage in turning ordinary Russians against the Kremlin […]

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NEWSLINK: “Meet The Russians Behind Your Blockchain (And Cryptocurrency, Too)” – Forbes/Kenneth Rapoza

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

“… Russian tech companies are not sanctioned. So far there is no Iron Curtain. Russians are behind some of the most successful blockchain platforms in the world. The Russians also dominate the cryptocurrency mining space. Go to a blockchain conference, and there are sure to be Russian miners dominating the exhibition hall. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “The Rusal Case Is a Failure of U.S. Sanctions; There are ways to hit Putin’s shadowy cronies without hurting top Russian firms” – Bloomberg/Leonid Bershidsky

“… Most of the $1 trillion that has fled Russia to the West since the Soviet Union’s collapse isn’t owned by the old-school ‘oligarchs.’ It was the corrupt officials and the little-known regime clients who moved it overseas. The West is still doing little to track that wealth and its owners; it’s looking under the lamp, not in the shadows where […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Influential economist says sanctions-hit Russian firms must not be compensated” – Interfax

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – April 21, 2018) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said the Russian government should not compensate Russian companies which have been hit by US sanctions. “Companies should be helped so that they don’t stop, but you don’t have to…[ellipses in original] compensate billionaires for the loss in their value,” Interfax news agency quoted Kudrin as saying on 21 […]

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U.S. Sanctions aren’t Splitting Russian Elites or Dividing Elites and People, ‘Nezavisimaya’ Says

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 10, 2018) The expanded US sanctions regime is based on the same assumption that the West made after the beginning of the economic crisis in Russia four years ago, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, the belief that economic hardship will lead some in the elite to oppose Vladimir Putin and […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

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“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Trade With the West Surges Even as Sanctions Mount; Last year’s increase, three years after penalties tied to annexation of Crimea, shows limits of curbs in longer term” – Wall Street Journal/Andrea Thomas, James Marson, Stefan Lange

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

” …. The U.S. and Europe’s largest nations, including France and Germany, saw exports to and imports from Russia skyrocket in 2017 after three years of decline. … at their highest levels since 2014, the year Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea …. The turnaround could be short-lived. … [After] Washington … unveiled fresh sanctions … in the latest U.S. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Medvedev threatens Russian counter-measures on U.S. goods” – Financial Times/Kathrin Hille

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“Moscow has threatened to hit imports from the U.S. or even products made by American companies in Russia as a retaliation against the crippling sanctions imposed Washington last week that battered Russian markets and have pushed Russian aluminium company Rusal to the brink. … Medvedev … said … that the government would ‘look into’ the possibility of counter-measures on ‘a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No longer safe assets: Invest in Russia at your own risk after U.S. sanctions, strategist says” – CNBC/Natasha Turak

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“Russian assets, in recovery mode following a deep recession after the global oil price collapse in 2015, have been ravaged since Friday over fears of U.S. sanctions.  Popular among many emerging market investors for the past year, this progress now appears on the brink of becoming undone as market analysts call for a re-evaluation of Russia’s risk pricing. * * […]

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‘No Doubt’ Russia Can Weather U.S. Sanctions, Economic Development Minister Says

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 10, 2018) Russia’s Economic Development Minister has promised that the country will be able to withstand losses suffered since the latest round of U.S. sanctions triggered sell-offs. The ruble sank to its lowest exchange rate against the U.S. dollar and euro since December 2016 on the second day of losses. Stocks in major Russian […]

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Interfax: Kudrin notes stability of Russian financial market Tuesday after Monday’s crash

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – The head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the situation on the Moscow Exchange after Monday’s crash is stable. “Today’s opening of the exchange, if nothing has changed in the last few minutes, shows that the exchange is stable. Stock market indexes are stable so far,” Kudrin said […]

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NEWSLINK: “Taking on Russia’s ‘oligarchs’; Meduza looks at the businessmen, state officials, and companies targeted in the latest U.S. sanctions” – Meduza

“On Friday, the world got a look at the latest U.S. sanctions against Russia. The U.S. Treasury Department’s new “designations” target seven Russian ‘oligarchs’ and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. Washington says the measures are a response to “a range of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Spy’s Poisoning: Where Does PM May Go from Here? Russia’s apparent attempt to murder Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom leaves Her Majesty’s Government with no good choices” – David Johnson/The National Interest

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

“Russia’s apparent attempt to murder Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom leaves … [the UK] with no good choices. Unlike the murder of … Litvinenko … London had no choice but rapidly and publicly to accuse [Russia] of … incompetence in losing control of a nerve agent it invented or attempted murder on British soil. …”  British Prime Minister May […]

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January data a ‘pleasant surprise’, Russian seasonally adjusted GDP up 0.6% – VEB

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Jan 28 (Interfax) – January was an unexpectedly successful month for the Russian economy, which slackened at the end of 2017, and the year got off to a “very good start” even despite the compensatory nature of the uptick and non-representative character of January as a month with fewer working days, Vnesheconombank (VEB) said in a report. According to […]

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Interfax: Ryabkov predicts countermeasures in response to new U.S. sanctions on Russia

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 15 (Interfax) – Russia will respond to new sanctions from the United Sates if they are imposed, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “If the threats are followed by real actions, we will act as before, staying calm and reserved – that is, ensure alternative forms and ways of achieving the tasks faced by our economic operators, […]

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Interfax: Medvedev: U.S. seeks to oust Russian companies from European market by putting them on different lists

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

SOCHI. Feb 15 (Interfax) – The United States is seeking to oust Russian companies from European market by including them in different lists, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Why are they doing so? For purely pragmatic reasons, this is because they want to promote their companies to European market, but, saying it straightforwardly, Europe and the U.S. are now […]

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NEWSLINK: “Expansion, Sanctions, and Opposition-Promotion: the West’s Failed Russian Transformation Strategy” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon M. Hahn

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

“… The West’s post-Ukraine crisis sanction meanwhile are intended to undermine the regime from above. The hope in Washington and Brussels is that by pressuring state and private oligarchs close to Putin or the Kremlin, some may withdraw their support and seek either to remove Putin in a coup or join the opposition and remove him in a revolution or […]

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Russian parliament moves to extend capital amnesty

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(Interfax – February 9, 2018) The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, has passed in third and final reading a package of bills extending the existing capital amnesty programme, which was proposed by President Vladimir Putin late in 2017. In December, Putin announced that Russia’s existing programme – aimed at encouraging wealthy Russians holding assets abroad to transfer […]

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Interfax: Ryabkov on countering ‘Kremlin list’: response not to be completely mirrored, Russia not to harm itself

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – The political meaning of the ‘Kremlin list’ composed in the United States is Washington’s wish to ‘put pressure’ on Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the newspaper Izvestia in an interview on Monday. “Hence, we are not trying to counter this situation in a completely mirrored way and will not do any harm to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Did the Trump Administration Pass the Buck on Sanctioning Russia?” [excerpt] – Russia Matters/David Szakonyi

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

David Szakonyi is an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University This week’s highly anticipated news on additional Russia sanctions landed with a thud. For weeks, both Moscow and Washington had been astir about the impending steps the Trump administration would take against Russia based on legislation reluctantly signed by the president nearly six months ago” and overwhelmingly […]

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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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Why The List Matters

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 31, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-why-the-list-matters/29009462.html) So by now we’ve all probably heard the initial reaction to the U.S. Treasury Department’s much-anticipated list of the most influential Russian officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions. It’s nothing more than a “who’s who” […]

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NEWSLINK: “DC Think Tanks Fail To Deliver Russian ‘Sanctions’ Smackdown, Market Up” – Forbes/ Kenneth Rapoza

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

“… The bulk of the names on the list, including Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, VTB Bank president Andrey Kostin, and metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, were all names on ‘black’ and ‘gray’ lists circulating between the State Department and Washington think tanks for months. Treasury said that the appearance on the list does not mean they are banned from traveling to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Washington added every Russian billionaire to its ‘list of oligarchs.’ Does that make sense? Who are these ‘oligarchs’?” – Meduza

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

“1. What Happened? … 2. Who does Washington consider an “oligarch” in Russia? … 3. But who are “oligarchs” really? It is just very rich business people? … 4. Who are Russia’s oligarchs? Where’d they come from? … 5. Is this the only definition of “oligarchy”? … 6. Does Russia have “oligarchs” today? …”

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Who’s On The List? Russia’s Elite Nervous About New U.S. Sanctions

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 – Mike Eckel – WASHINGTON – January 15, 2018 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-sanctions-list-putin-circle-elite-nervous/28976991.html) There’s a chill settling in over Moscow, and it’s not just the arctic temperatures that typically smother the Russian capital in January. As U.S. officials put the finishing touches on new financial and travel sanctions against Russia, […]

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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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Lucy Komisar: Re: “Developments re Browder”

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Subject: Developments re Browder Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2017 From: Lucy Komisar you might be interested in one of these 1 About the new Magnitsky List – Browder targeted a lawyer involved in the $230 million tax refund fraud ten years ago who he had ignored since then. the man was put on the list exactly 2 months after he […]

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Central Banker Named Putin Heir in Doomsday Prediction

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 19, 2017) President Vladimir Putin will continue to rule behind the scenes after installing the current Central Bank chairwoman as his proxy, the Bloomberg news agency predicted in its annual worst-case scenario guide on Monday. Putin, who announced plans to seek a fourth term this month, is widely expected to win the 2018 presidential […]

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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.

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(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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NEWSWATCH: “I’m ‘sick and tired’ of how U.S. views Russia, says CEO of Russia’s second-largest bank” –  CNBC/ Silvia Amaro

VTB Bank File Photo

“… The tense issue of Russian meddling in the election has dragged on. Putin warned last week that U.S. media companies could be restricted when operating in Russia after calls from American lawmakers to limit Russian outlets, namely RT and Sputnik, for their involvement in the 2016 presidential election. … Click here for: “I’m ‘sick and tired’ of how U.S. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s CBR gets tough on banks, demands they reveal owners’ identities” – bne Intellinews

Central Bank of Russia file photo

“The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) will demand that all of Russia’s banks fully disclose the identities of their owners from the start of 2018, Kommersant daily reported on September 11 citing the draft order prepared by the regulator. …”

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Business community expects economic reforms in Russia after presidential vote – Gref

Sberbank File Photo

MOSCOW. Sept 7 (Interfax) – The business community expects that Russia may begin extensive economic reforms after next year’s presidential elections and the preparatory stage is now underway, Sberbank of Russia (MOEX: SBER) CEO Herman Gref said in an interview on NTV television. “The expectations of business and, in general, the entire country is that such an extensive reform process, […]

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Central Bank analysts lower Russian GDP growth forecast in Q3-Q4 on weak industrial production data

Central Bank of Russia file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 6 (Interfax) – Central Bank analysts have lowered their forecast for Russian GDP growth in Q3 from 0.6% to 0.4%-0.5% on a quarterly basis excluding seasonality, the Central Bank’s Research and Forecasting Department said in its bulletin Talking Trends. The estimate for October-December 2017 was also lowered from 0.6% to 0.4%. “The main sources of the downward revision […]

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Lame-Duck Putinism

Putin at Desk

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org Brian Whitmore – September 1, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/lame-duck-putinism/28709290.html) An association of “patriotic entrepreneurs” is proposing that the Russian central bank issue a new 10,000 ruble banknote featuring Vladimir Putin’s likeness. Now you can read that a couple ways. The simplest, of course, is that it’s nothing more than […]

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Russia Offers Emergency Bank Aid to Prevent Otkritie Contagion

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Anna Baraulina – August 30, 2017) Russia’s central bank moved to contain a slow-motion banking crisis, offering support to other lenders after announcing the takeover of the largest institution yet. Bank Otkritie FC, Russia’s biggest private lender a month ago, is the first bank to be taken over by a fund created so that […]

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Putin’s New Favorite Official Plans Ministry of Future to Revamp Economy

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov – August 25, 2017) The odds were against Maxim Oreshkin. With only three years of government experience when President Vladimir Putin picked him to lead Russia’s Economy Ministry late in 2016, Oreshkin was considered a political lightweight. He got a ministry at risk of being taken over by the more […]

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A Month After Tighter Sanctions, Russia Risk Drops to a Four-Year Low

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff, Ksenia Galouchko – August 24, 2017) [Text with charts: bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-24/month-after-sanctions-storm-russia-risk-drops-to-four-year-low] Less than a month after the U.S. toughened its main sanctions against Russia, a measure of the country’s political risk is back to its lowest level in four years. The cost of insuring Russian debt against default for five years using credit-default swaps dropped […]

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Big Data Convert Channels Big Brother to Take Russia’s Pulse

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 22, 2017) Raw numbers no longer cut it for Russia’s central bank in its effort to keep up with the economy. Instead, the man running its research and forecasting wants to know how Russians really feel by mining “big data,” gathered from social media and online stores. The Bank of Russia has […]

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Russia Braces for Permanent Sanctions From the U.S.; Moscow was hopeful Trump would loosen sanctions. Instead, he made them permanent.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Anna Andrianova – August 8, 2017) Andrey Kostin, a former Soviet diplomat in London who runs Russia’s second-largest bank, was jubilant when Donald Trump was elected last year. “We may soon see U.S. financial sanctions eased or even lifted,” he said at the time. Now, he’s changed his tune as his state-run VTB Group, […]

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Why Russia’s Market Is Rising After Sanctions Bill Approval

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 27, 2017) The U.S. House has approved a bill hardening sanctions against Russia, but European resistance to some of its toughest new measures means the impact on companies will be muted, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG. As it stands now, the most negative aspect of the bill […]

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