Half of Russia Still in Crisis Prepares for Worse to Come

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 20, 2017) The half of Russia’s economy that hasn’t got wind of a recovery is already hunkering down for the crisis to come. Once indispensable for the country’s prospects, consumption flat-lined well below zero throughout last year even as the broader economy defied gloom. From the ruble to industrial output and wages, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – February 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, who briefed the President on the economic situation in Russia in 2016, and the prospects for 2017. Ways to continue reducing inflation this year were also under discussion. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Oreshkin, do you have the final figures or the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil; Russia’s Central Bank last week said appetite was low for an increase in lending rates” – UPI/Daniel J. Graeber

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel … [Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina] said. … The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much … depends on the price of […]

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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Russians Are Getting Used to Being Broke

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Olga Kuvshinova – February 6, 2017) Russia’s recovery from the current recession continues to slow, according to the Economic Development Ministry. The reason: demand has plummeted. If that is the case, it means the Russian economy’s decline is in full swing despite official statements that the recession has ended. The decline in retail turnover – […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians can no longer afford to pinch pennies on food”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

If incomes continue to drop, however, Russians won’t be able to cut their food budgets and still adequately feed themselves. Any further cuts could mean risking malnutrition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – Feb. 6, 2017) Consumers are not willing to further cut food spending even if their financial situation continues to deteriorate. Grocery spending […]

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Russia Nears End of Recession as GDP Shrinks Less Than Forecast

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 1, 2017) Russia edged closer to exiting its longest recession in almost two decades as mining, manufacturing and agriculture added to stabilizing oil prices to steady the economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter. Gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent last year after an upwardly revised decline of 2.8 percent in 2015, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

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

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians weather the crisis by sharing beds, rides and jobs”

Moscow Roads

The number of Russians who during the crisis found additional work on the YouDo online exchange grew by almost six times in the 2015-2016 period. BlaBlaCar and AirBnB also told RBTH that there was an increase in demand for its services in Russia in 2016. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – KIRA KALININA, RBTH – January 30, 2017) The […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Index of fear: What are Russians most afraid of?”

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

Most Russians polled are afraid of war and international conflicts, but the number decreased to 14 points in December compared to 23 points in January 2016. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – January 30, 2017) Russians’ main fears remain the threat of war and inflation, while family troubles are the least worry. These findings are the results of a […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight” – Forbes.com/Kenneth Rapoza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russian oil and gas companies, along with its biggest banks, were sanctioned in the summer of 2014 following the March annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Tension between the West and Russia increased that year as a new, U.S. backed government led by Arsesniy Yatsenyuk took hold in Kiev, sending Moscow into panic mode. Russia […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian retail slump clouds forecasts for economic recovery” – Reuters

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

Russian retail sales fell more than expected in December, official data showed on Wednesday, challenging the government’s optimistic predictions for an imminent economic recovery. Retail sales are the largest contributor to Russian gross domestic product and have suffered steep falls since the economy entered a deep slump in 2014, when oil prices collapsed and the West imposed sanctions over the […]

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Surviving on the streets: Stories from those that care for the homeless

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

According to various estimates, between a 1.5 million and 3 million people in Russia are homeless. An RBTH correspondent accompanied volunteers from the Moscow adaptation center for the homeless as they went on their nightly rounds and learned how the homeless survive in the most densely populated city in the country. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEVGENY LEVKOVICH, […]

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Russia Locks In on What’s Wrong With Ruble During Oil Frenzy

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – January 23, 2017) Untethering the #ruble helped #Russia ride out the biggest #oil downturn in a generation. But it’s left the world’s biggest energy exporter vulnerable to greater volatility in crude prices as #OPEC pushes output cuts. To address that, the Bank of Russia is preparing to wade back into the currency market […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Deputy Prime Minister: Too Early to ‘Discharge’ Russia’s Economy ‘From Hospital'” – Sputnik News

Igor Shuvalov file photo

“… ‘We could say that we have been discharged from the hospital, when we have a sustainable growth and increase in our citizens income. At the moment we can not see it,’ Shuvalov told the Rossiya-24 broadcaster …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Listen, liberal. Alexei Kudrin wants to liberalise Russia’s economy to save it. But with Donald Trump’s election, many Russians think Putin’s model is winning.” – The Economist

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin’s verdict was grim. Russia, he said, is at a low pace of economic growth even compared with the period of stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s that led to the Soviet collapse. The reasons go well beyond low #oil prices and Western sanctions: The main problems lie within Russia and they are structural and institutional.’ Russia lags far […]

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

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

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

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

World Bank Building

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

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

Asia Map

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

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

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

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

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World Bank Sees 1.5 Percent GDP Growth In Russia For 2017

World Bank Building

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

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

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

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Dollar Falls to Under 60 Rubles for the First Time Since July 2015

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 5, 2017) As most Russians enjoy a week-long holiday vacation, the country’s ailing currency is also having a happy new year. Today, during trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange, the U.S. Dollar’s value fell to less than 60 rubles for the first time since 2015, the RBC newspaper reported. At 2:19 p.m. Moscow time, […]

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

Russia Regions Map

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

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Russian Ruble Ended 2016 As Second Best Emerging Market Performer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – January 4, 2017) The Russian ruble continued to make gains against the euro and U.S. dollar in the first two days of trading in 2017 after ending last year as the second-best performer among emerging market currencies. The ruble ended trading in Moscow at 60.51 to the dollar and 62.76 to the euro on January 3. […]

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With Reforms Impossible, Some Russians Predict Revolution, Baklanov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 2, 2016) Given that Vladimir #Putin has signaled that any serious reforms in the near term are unlikely or even impossible, ever more #Russians are predicting revolution, especially as that country enters the centenary of the two revolutions of 1917, Aleksandr Baklanov says. That doesn’t mean that a revolution will happen […]

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Putin’s War At Home

Russia Regions Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – December 28, 2016) As Vladimir Putin basks in his victories abroad, problems are piling up at home. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of oil-rich Tatarstan, has denounced a recent Kremlin decision to take more of his republic’s tax revenues, calling it “stupidity” and comparing it to Josef Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks. Minnikhanov’s broadside […]

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Russian Families Spend 80% of Income on Essentials

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

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

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

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

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

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Putin Caps a Turnaround Year as Rosneft Deal Beats Sanctions

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

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

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

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

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

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

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

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

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

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

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

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

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

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

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

Alexei Kudrin file photo

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

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How the Russian Economy Hit Rock Bottom

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

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

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Cheapest Labor Since Tsars Ruled Russia a Draw for Samsung, Ikea

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Ilya Khrennikov – November 16, 2016) Made in Russia and coming soon to a store shelf near you: washing machines, chewing gum and possibly much else. A combination of the country’s worst currency crisis since 1998 and an unprecedented slide in real wages for most of the past two years has resulted in salaries […]

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RUSSIALINK TASS: “Central Bank anticipates remaining anti-Russia sanctions”

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

“The recovery may be stretched over time at present because [economic growth] factors should be different, unlike those before the oil price collapse. We understand this pretty well and speak about changing the behavior model of the economy and its development model. Economic recovery signs surfaced by now and the Bank of Russia expects minor growth of GDP,” Nabiullina said.

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “World Bank upgrades its forecast for the Russian economy; Prediction a significant improvement over June report”

World Bank Building

On Nov. 9, the World Bank released its latest forecast for the Russian economy. The prediction was better than expected, showing the Russian economy shrinking by 0.6 percent in 2016, then rising by 1.5 percent in 2017 and by 1.7 percent in 2018. In June, the World Bank predicted that Russia’s GDP would fall by 1.2 percent in 2016.

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Half of Russians at Risk of Poverty, Says World Bank

World Bank Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 10, 2016) Half of Russia’s population risks falling into poverty, a report from the World Bank has revealed. Some 21.4 million people – or 14.6 percent of the population – fell below Russia’s national poverty line in the first half of 2016, with disposable incomes shrinking on average by 5.8 percent. The number of […]

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For Russia’s Labor Migrants, a Life on the Edge; In slum settlements on the outskirts of Moscow, foreign workers are adjusting to the realities of Russia’s economic crisis.

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer, Bradley Jardine – November 4, 2016) Not so long ago, the migrant population of Chelobityevo in northern Moscow lived in fear of the police. These were times when uniformed officers would descend on the village unannounced, beating and arresting undocumented workers in their path. Once, migrants were forced to strip naked in freezing […]

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NEWSLINK Politics.eu: “Russia’s boom (farming) economy. Kremlin credits Western sanctions. The truth is more complicated.”

Field of Grain file photo

“… When the West slapped sanctions on Russia in 2014 and Moscow retaliated with a trade embargo, the consensus was that Moscow was shooting itself in the foot by banning fresh produce from the EU. A little more than two years later, the Kremlin insists the sanctions have galvanized a new generation of Stakhanovite farmers to smash production targets and propel the country […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite; The country is in decline, but Vladimir Putin is willing to take bold risks” – Washington Post

Kremlin and River

Whoever wins Tuesday’s presidential election will face an assertive, aggrieved Russia whose risk-taking behavior under … Putin is increasingly worrisome …. pushy, headstrong Russia presents a paradox … most measures … a country in decline, with a sagging economy, an underdeveloped technology base and a shrinking population. Corruption pervades nearly every sector. The collapse of the Soviet Union is still […]

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Putin’s Maverick Adviser Defies Nabiullina With $64 Billion Plan

Central Bank of Russia file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – October 30, 2016) Sergei Glazyev agrees with President Vladimir Putin that shock therapy would be ill-advised for Russia. Which is also where he parts ways with his boss. Ever since the central bank’s shift to a free-floating exchange rate in late 2014, the country has been under the onslaught of policies that have […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s renewed might rests on weak economic foundations. Putin bravado does not extend to modernisation of the economy” – Financial Times/Neil Buckley

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

… the gap between the image … Putin portrayed … and the reality was exposed by a sobering assessment of Russia’s economy by another senior official … further emphasised by a draft budget … envisaging a 27 per cent cut in defence spending …. the official … made it clear how Russia’s ambitions clash with its capabilities. … western sanctions […]

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Russia’s Oil Industry Is Making The Most Of A Weak Ruble; Record Oil Production and Capital Spending Supported by Favorable FX Rate

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – October 21, 2016) While Russian federal revenue from oil and natural gas production has declined significantly in response to low oil prices, oil and natural gas companies have actually increased investments or only seen modest declines, according to the EIA. In ruble terms, the Brent price has actually increased by 40 percent from 2010 levels, while decreasing in […]

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The Russian Paradox: Why the Economic Crisis hasn’t Sparked Political Protest

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 22, 2016) Most countries suffering from an economic situation as dire as that of the Russian Federation would see public support turn massively away from the incumbent administration and major political as well as economic protests as well. But in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, neither has happened. While there has been a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The New Poor: How The Ongoing Crisis Has Devoured Russia’s Small Middle Class” – Moscow Times/Boris Grozovsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

This winter will mark three years since Russia abruptly embarked on a course of political and economic isolation. Lower oil prices and the devaluation of the ruble dealt a serious blow to the population’s economic well-being. By its own evaluation, Russia’s middle class shrank by more than 16 percent, shedding an incredible 14 million people. Click here for Moscow Times/Boris […]

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