Interfax: Russians don’t mind ‘against all’ option on ballots

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 16, 2013) Some 43% of Russian citizens support the initiative to reinstate the “against all” opinion on ballots, the Russian Public Opinion Studies Center (VTsIOM) told Interfax on Wednesday. Twenty-one percent of the respondents disagreed with the idea, and 32% said they simply did not care. VTsIOM polled 1,600 people in 130 towns and cities in […]

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Russia Again Caught Between Disintegration and Dictatorship, Editor Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 17, 2013) The Russian Federation finds itself in a Zugswang, a German term for a situation in which any move leads to a loss, according to the editor of “Kulturolog.” And in its case, the situation is especially dire because the country increasingly finds itself forced to choose between disintegration and […]

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Small Retailers Squeezed Out Of Moscow in Migrant Crackdown

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – October 17, 2013) Following a recent eruption of ethnically motivated street violence, Moscow’s migrant-populated food markets and warehouses continue to serve as the front line in an ongoing fight against illegal immigrants declared by mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The now notorious vegetable warehouse in Biryulyovo that became the site of violent riots Sunday […]

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Interfax: Lavrov notes scale-back in Russia-NATO relations

NATO Meeting file photo

(Interfax – BRUSSELS, October 16, 2013) Relations between Russia and NATO have scaled back on certain tracks, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Positive results are hard to win in practice in certain areas, and progress was even reversed on some tracks,” he said at the Royal Institute of International relations (the Egmont Institute) in Brussels. “I mean, for instance, […]

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RIA Novosti: US ‘Itching’ to Join Russia in Anti-Asteroid Nuclear Defense – Report

Stylized Satellite View of Globe Highlighting Russian Impact Location for Meteor

(RIA Novosti – WASHINGTON, October 16, 2013) ­ US scientists are “itching” to work with their Russian counterparts in putting nuclear weapons technology to use in new systems to defend Earth from threatening asteroids, an investigative journalism outlet reported Wednesday. “In recent years, advocates of the use of nuclear weapons to counter space threats have been gaining ground,” the non-profit […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia to Push for Visa-Free Regime Deal With EU in 2014 – Official

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 17, 2013) Russia wants to begin drafting a deal on visa-free travel with the EU early next year, a senior Russian diplomat said in an interview published Thursday. That deal, however, requires the EU to make a “political decision to begin negotiations on drafting the agreement,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told RIA Novosti. The […]

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Russian economy still stagnating, Q3 growth almost zero – Klepach

Andrei Klepach file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 16, 2013) The Russian economy is still stagnating, with zero GDP growth in Q3 this year on a seasonally adjusted basis, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said at a meeting of the State Duma’s budget committee. “The forecast was that we would reverse the tendency for economic growth to slow and this stagnation, which we […]

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Prisoners of the psyche: Forced psychiatry in today’s Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – October 16, 2013) A court last week ordered activist Mikhail Kosenko to undergo compulsory psychiatric treatment for attacking a riot police officer during the May 6, 2012 protest rally on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. The ruling sparked concerns among rights activists that Soviet-era punitive psychiatry, when dissidents were found to […]

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Interfax: Russian politicians welcome Navalnyy news but Zhirinovskiy wants him banged up

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Being Grabbed by Police at Protest

(Interfax – October 16, 2013) Russian party leaders have for the most part welcomed the commutation of opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksey Navalnyy’s sentence to a suspended one, on appeal, on 16 October. In reaction sampled by the Russian news agency Interfax, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, of the nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), stood out, with his call for a […]

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Biryulyovo Killing Suspect Confesses, Investigators Say

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – October 17, 2013) The Azeri suspect in a deadly stabbing that triggered an anti-migrant riot in Moscow’s Biryulyovo district has confessed to the killing and requested an interpreter for his case, saying he “forgot Russian,” investigators said Wednesday. The news of the apparent language barrier further emphasizes the ethnic dimension of the […]

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Medvedev doesn’t see Ukraine’s association with EU as dramatic or fatal

File Photo of Ukrainians with Ukrainian Flag in Public Square Near Tower with Golden Dome

(Interfax – KALUGA. October 15, 2013) Moscow does not consider Kyiv’s choice in favor of association with the European Union to be fatal or dramatic, although this would pose certain difficulties for the Belarusian-Kazakh-Russian Customs Union’s and Russia’s market, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Do we think that this is a dramatic or fatal choice? Of course we don’t […]

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Lavrov calls Russian-U.S. agreement on Syrian chemical weapons renaissance of diplomacy

Syria Map

(Interfax – BRUSSELS, October 15, 2013) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the Russian-U.S. understandings on Syria’s chemical weapons a renaissance of diplomacy aimed not at building coalitions but at reaching common goals. Speaking at the Brussels-based Royal Institute for International Relations (Egmont Institute), Lavrov suggested that the world has switched to a polycentric from a bipolar system of […]

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Car Ownership Easier, More Expensive

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Lena Smirnova – October 16, 2013) With new rules simplifying registration of automobiles going into effect Tuesday, the country’s rapidly growing number of motorists will find the time and paperwork it takes to buy and sell a vehicle greatly reduced, while cost of ownership is on the increase. From Oct. 15, motorists no longer need […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#185 :: Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Map of Russia

Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#185 ::16 October 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php POLITICS 1. AFP: Top Putin critic Navalny avoids prison on appeal. 2. ITAR-TASS: […]

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Putin Builds North Korea Rail to Circumvent Suez Canal

North Korea Map and Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ekaterina Shatalova and Nicholas Brautlecht – October 15, 2013) Vladimir Putin is inching closer to his goal of turning Russia into a major transit route for trade between eastern Asia and Europe by prying open North Korea, a nuclear-capable dictatorship isolated for half a century. Russia last month completed the first land link that North Korea’s […]

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Russia Preparing Property Restrictions for Foreigners – Paper

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 16, 2013) Russia is drafting changes to the law that will bar foreigners from owning or renting real estate in the country without official permission, a state-owned newspaper said Wednesday. The Economic Development Ministry told Rossiiskaya Gazeta that it is in consultation about the legislation with law enforcement and migration agencies including the Federal Security […]

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Macroeconomic factors to work against oil prices in 2014 – Klepach

Andrei Klepach file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 16, 2013) Macroeconomic factors will work to push oil prices down next year, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said during a meeting the State Duma budget committee. Klepach said that that, in the forecast for Russia’s socioeconomic development in 2014-2016, there is built in the hypothesis “that the rather high oil prices we are seeing […]

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Third of Russians say country is in economic crisis

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 15, 2013) A relative majority of Russians thinks that the national economic situation is deteriorating, and a third claims an economic crisis has already started, the Public Opinion Foundation said. Some 40% of the respondents polled in October alleged economic deterioration; the indicator stood at 28% two years ago. Discontent was expressed primarily by the respondents […]

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Three Disturbing New Russian Legal Initiatives

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 16, 2013) The Kremlin’s moves against the principles of the Russian Constitution and basic human rights are currently coming at such a rapid pace that it is difficult to keep up with its assault on what remains of democracy in that country. This week alone featured three initiatives that are particularly […]

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‘Against All’ Option Could Reappear on Election Ballots

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2013) The “against all” vote, a popular mechanism of protest until it was stricken from the Russian ballot in 2006, may soon reappear on the initiative of the very people who removed it ­ the ruling United Russia party. Valentina Matviyenko, who is the Federation Council’s Speaker and a United Russia member, said […]

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Russian government rhetoric worsens immigrants’ plight

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow) Moscow police rounded up and arrested more than 1,000 migrant workers at a vegetable warehouse on October 14, the day after rioters staged the most violent nationalist unrest in the Russian capital in three years, with more than 3,000 going on the rampage, smashing up a market, overturning and burning […]

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Ethnic Tensions in Moscow Spook the City’s Migrants

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(Howard Amos, RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 16, 2013) Public prayers to mark the beginning of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha were not as crowded as usual this year in Moscow. A violent nationalist rampage over the weekend has left the city’s migrant laborers, many of them from mainly Muslim former Soviet nations, feeling uneasy. Speaking outside the Cathedral […]

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Police Detain Suspect in Biryulyovo Killing

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 16, 2013) Police on Tuesday detained the suspect in a killing that provoked a wave of ethnically charged riots in Moscow’s Western Biryulyovo district on Sunday. The alleged murderer, Orkhan Zeinalov, 30, who came to Moscow more than 10 years ago from the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, was detained 100 […]

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Divorce, Russian style

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Lyudmila Nazdracheva, Special to RBTH – October 16, 2013) Russia has the highest divorce rate in the world, but the causes and consequence of broken marriages aren’t surprising. When Valery Lepekhin’s boss got on his nerves one too many times, he punched him in the eye. Lepekhin was fired, but he felt like […]

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Russian Parliament Introduces Fines for Smoking in Public

No Smoking Symbol

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 15, 2013) Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved the third and final reading of a bill toughening the country’s anti-smoking legislation by introducing fines for smoking in public and encouraging minors to smoke. The bill is part of broader anti-smoking legislation that came into force in June. It sets fines of up to […]

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Apathetic Russians have little interest in political process

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyublinskaya, special to RBTH – October 16, 2013) According to data from surveys, almost two thirds of Russians are indifferent to the political situation in the country. In their explanation of these results experts claim in the first instance that the population are more focused on everyday problems and do not trust […]

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Interfax: Navalny may be subject to planned amnesty – Human Rights Council head

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – October 16, 2013) Prominent opposition activist and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, whom the Kirov Regional Court gave a five-year suspended prison sentence on Wednesday for embezzlement of assets belonging to the state-run timber company Kirovles, may be subject to the amnesty that the State Duma is expected to announce soon, Russian Presidential Human Rights Council head Mikhail Fedotov […]

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Putin Amendment Calls for Restoring Tax Fraud Investigative Authority to Power Ministries

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 15, 2013) President Vladimir Putin has submitted to the State Duma a bill that would restore the right of investigators to open tax fraud cases without a request from the tax authorities ­ a move that critics fear could lead to a renewed persecution of business executives, a news report said Tuesday. If approved, […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia Has No Plans to Talk Ukraine Out of EU Bid – Government

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 15, 2013) ­ Moscow has no plans to dissuade Kiev from signing a free-trade deal with the European Union, a Russian government spokesman said ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Russian and Ukrainian premiers. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Azarov in Kaluga, a city some 150 kilometers (93 miles) […]

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Russia to set up Federal Copyright Service

Igor Shuvalov file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 14, 2013) Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov chaired a meeting last week where it was decided that Russia would set up a Federal Copyright Service, Izvestia newspaper reported Monday. “The new structure will offer government services to register and protect intellectual property, legal regulation, supervision and coordination of authorities in this area,” the paper […]

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Only innovative economic model can ensure sustainable growth – Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 14, 2013) Using reserve funds to support major investment projects and small and medium businesses can accelerate economic growth slightly for a few months, but an innovative model of growth needs to be implemented in the long-term, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said at a briefing for the upcoming Open Innovations international forum in Moscow. The […]

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Broad Amnesty Proposals Need to Be ‘Revised’

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 15, 2013) State Duma deputies are calling for changes to the proposal prison amnesty that could benefit prominent convicts like former oil tycoon Khodorkovsky. State Duma deputies want to make changes to the broad amnesty proposal drafted by the Kremlin’s human rights council for the 20th anniversary of the Constitution, and are working on […]

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RIA Novosti: No Need To Toughen Russian Immigration Law Despite Riots – Senior Official

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(RIA Novosti – October 14, 2013) Russia’s immigration laws do not need to be tightened, the country’s top migration official said on 14 October, in the wake of protests and rioting sparked off by the killing in Moscow of an ethnic Russian, allegedly by an immigrant from the Caucasus. Despite the unrest, Konstantin Romodanovskiy, head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service […]

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Interfax: Navalny says appellate court will not acquit him of Kirovles embezzlement charges

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 15, 2013) Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has said he does not expect the Kirov Regional Court to acquit him as it hears an appeal contesting Navalny’s embezzlement conviction on October 16. “I will be given a real or a suspended prison sentence, but I will not be acquitted,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. However, […]

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Russian Political Debate has Shifted from Liberals vs. Derzhavniki to Left vs. Right Nationalists, Pain Says

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 15, 2013) Nationalism is now at the center of Russian political discourse, that country’s leading specialist on ethnic conflicts says, and as a result, the core of Moscow’s political debate has shifted from one between liberals and derzhavniki to a very different one between left nationalists and right-of-center ones. Emil Pain, […]

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Nationalist Riots In Moscow Send Fear Through Muslim Migrant Communities

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, October 14, 2013) Moscow’s migrant workers have seen this story before and they believe they have reason to be afraid. When an unidentified man — believed to be from the Caucasus — stabbed and killed a young ethnic Russian on October 10, triggering the capital’s worst ethnic riots in three years, police […]

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Alekseyeva backs police actions in Biryulyovo

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 14, 2013) Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said the police officers ‘ actions during riots in the Moscow district Western Biryulyovo were right. “In this case, what has occurred should be classified as hooliganism. It truly was hooliganism, and the law enforcement agencies should punish the perpetrators,” Alekseyeva told Interfax on Monday. […]

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Moscow – Riots and Working Class Antiheroes

Biryulyovo Riots file photo

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News – October 15, 2013) There is a kind of sad poetry to Moscow’s working class neighborhoods. The box-like Khrushchev-era buildings that seem like gigantic children’s toys rather than real housing, the hilariously poor grammar on thousands of tacked up advertisements, the cracked pavement, the whispering trees, and  the stars […]

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RIA Novosti: Over Half of Russians Say Life is Hard, But Bearable – Poll

Map of Russia

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 14, 2013) ­ Some 57 percent of Russians feel that life is hard but bearable, according to a new survey, five percentage points higher than in 2011. According to new poll results released by the independent Levada Center on Monday, 25 percent of respondents said that the phrase “things aren’t that bad, it’s livable” best […]

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Biryulyovo Residents Warn of More Unrest

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 15, 2013) Surrounded by railroads, industrial estates and giant cooling towers from a local thermal plant, the Western Biryulyovo district where riots broke out Sunday oozes its own sense of disunion from the rest of Moscow ­ and residents say it has become a hostage to its own growing marginalization. “If […]

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Riot Called a Result of Growing Anti-Migrant Sentiment

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – October 15, 2013) In response to a violent race riot in southern Moscow over the weekend, federal and city authorities announced new measures to fight illegal immigration and detained about 1,200 migrants at a vegetable storage facility that had been attacked by rioters Sunday. With these actions, the government took a first […]

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Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#184 :: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Map of Russia

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2013-#184 ::15 October 2013 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: […]

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Russia’s income inequality: the root of most evil

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief – October 11, 2013) The issue of income inequality in Russia is nothing new. We are used to noting it – then filing it away somewhere as we get on with the rest of our lives. Rich people exist everywhere after all and it’s not as if the United States, to […]

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RIA Novosti: Russian Government to Cull Federal Officials

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev Before Gold Flag with Elaborate Design

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 13, 2013) ­ Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a cull of federal officials in the regions ahead of an upcoming three-year state budget crunch. Medvedev did not give any estimates for the number of officials facing the sack in 2014-2015 in his order, published on the government’s website on Sunday. The cull, to […]

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Interfax: Russian Internet economy expected to grow 3-6%/yr even amid global crisis

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – MOSCOW, October 11, 2013) Russia’s Internet economy will continue to grow at a rate of 3-6% annually even if there is a global crisis, the head of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC), Sergei Plugotarenko told reporters. “In preparing the study Runet Economy 2012-2013, we prepared four scenarios for the Internet economy’s development: innovation, stabilization, negative and […]

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Russia Keeps Investment Trust in US Treasuries

U.S. Treasury HH Series Savings Bond file photo

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, October 12, 2013) ­ The Russian government will not revise its policy of investing almost half of the country’s foreign exchange reserves in US Treasury securities despite growing fears of a looming US debt default, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “I don’t see the need for changing our reserve investment strategy at present,” Siluanov told […]

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Georgia Gets Russian Agricultural Access After Seven-Year Ban

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Helena Bedwell – October 14, 2013) Georgia regained access to Russian markets for its fruit, vegetable and nut exports, seven years after its northern neighbor banned the produce, according to the Black Sea country’s National Food Agency in Tbilisi. Russian inspectors have carried out sanitation checks in Georgia, Giga Kurdovanidze, a spokesman for the agency, said […]

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Russia Holds Rates as Nabiullina Looks Past Slowing Economy

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas & Scott Rose – October 14, 2013) Russia’s central bank left its main lending rate unchanged for a 13th month and removed a signal that it will keep monetary policy on pause as inflation dropped into its target range for the first time since August 2012. Bank Rossii left the one-week auction rate, its […]

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Hermitage’s Browder Wins Dismissal of Russian’s Libel Case

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jeremy Hodges – October 14, 2013) Hermitage Capital Management founder William Browder won the dismissal of a U.K. libel case filed by a former Russian policeman accused of playing a part in the 2009 death of legal and tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky. Judge Peregrine Simon ruled that the U.K. wasn’t the right jurisdiction for the ex-policeman, […]

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Interfax: Expert says there are about one million Islamists in Russia

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Interfax – October 11, 2013) Some one million Russian Muslims are radicals, Roman Silantyev, deputy head of the expert council for the state theological review under the Justice Ministry, has said, as reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 11 October. “On the whole, the number of Islamists in Russia may be approximately estimated at one million people, i.e. […]

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