NEWSWATCH: “OPEC Pushes Russia to Continue Helping on Oil Prices” – Wall Street Journal/ Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, Nathan Hodge

File Photo of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Seated Next to Saudi Flag and Gesturing, adapted from image at defense.gov

As King Salman becomes the first Saudi Monarch to visit Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by OPEC to keep Russia in an ad hoc coalition to suppress global oil production. “Saudi Arabia and OPEC are lobbying Russia to stay on board with their efforts to raise oil prices, amid signals that Moscow wants to end its participation in costly […]

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Putin Budget Points to Another Lost Decade for Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4m 2017) The three-year budget the Russian government has proposed suggests that Russia will continue to stagnate, poverty will continue to grow, and the country will fall further and further behind the developed world and even its nearest neighbors, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. In a lead article today, […]

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Siluanov names three structural areas for state budget spending in 2018-2020

Anton Siluanov file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 18 (Interfax) – The social sphere, defense and support for the national economy are the main areas of Russian federal budget spending in 2018-2020, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “The bulk of spending is stipulated for allocation to the social sphere – this is 36.4% – and defense – 29%. We are fulfilling the plan for arms and […]

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NEWSLINK: “Greasing the public’s hands: how oil and gas taxes financed the Kremlin’s social contract” – Bear Market Blog/ Miranda Lupion

Gas Flame file photo

“This past month, Russian news outlet RBC published a detailed report breaking down the revenue sources that funded the Kremlin’s 2016 federal budget. While the headline, “50 Companies Furnished Half of the Russian Budget’s Tax Revenue,” may come as no surprise to those familiar with the country’s business landscape, the fine print is worth a double take. In 2016, revenue […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to spend $2.5 bln on Trans-Siberian, Baikal-Amur railroads. Investment is first stage in expanding railroad capacity to increase exports from Far East Russia.” – Asia Times

Russia Map

“Russian [sic] has approved US$2.5 billion to expand and modernize the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways as part of a larger rail project to boost economic growth and exports from the country’s Far East region that borders the Pacific Ocean. … Putin has given the green light for the government to allocate money from the National Welfare Fund for this stage of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s government moves from war budget to election budget” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“The Russian government has moved from a war budget to an election budget as social spending soars and defence spending is cut. With the presidential election now only a year away, which Russian President Vladimir Putin, virtually unopposed, is expected to easily win, the Russian government has changed its budgetary focus and boosted social spending to soften up the electorate. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin announces cuts to defence spending in 2018” – RIA Novosti

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

(RIA Novosti – August 15, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced cuts to defence spending in 2018 as a part of next year’s federal budget, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 15 August. “I would like to recall that significant savings are under review for next year’s budget, and incidentally, by means of reducing spending on defence. This […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to become a net borrower for first time in a decade” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russia has been dipping into its rainy day Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit but this fund is due to run out of money sometime next year. Now the government is actively preparing to dip into its other sovereign fund, the National Welfare Fund, that was set up to meet future pension payments, but now will be […]

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Russia Sticks to Conservative $40 Oil Forecast for 2018 Budget

Oil Well file photo

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

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NEWSWATCH: “The Wars of the Future: Russian Defense Ministry’s New Modernization Plan; Upcoming re-armament program will offer clues on how Russia sees the future of war” – Moscow Times/ Michael Kofman

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… Delayed for two years owing to economic and budgetary volatility, the next phase of the State Armament Program (GPV), covering 2018-2025, is due to be finalized and signed by September. … [to] determine not just what Russian armed forces get next year, but the weapons and systems they will fight with into the 2030s. * * * … the […]

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

Anton Siluanov file photo

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

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Fiscal rule already essentially in effect, might be formally introduced in 2018 – Belousov

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW. April 17 (Interfax) – The new fiscal rule that restricts Russian budget spending of additional oil and gas revenue is essentially already in effect, and it might be formally introduced in 2018, Kremlin aide Andrei Belousov said. “The fiscal rule comes down to cutting off the level of spending at an oil price of $40 per barrel. We negotiated […]

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Russia Eyes Reforms to 13 Percent Flat Income Tax; A new series of reform proposals could tie tax rates to income levels

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – February 22, 2017) #Russia has long prided itself on its simple 13 percent flat income #tax rate. But a series of reform proposals could push the country towards a progressive alternative. The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) are actively developing reforms for the Russian […]

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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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Russian government gives general approval to 2017-2019 draft budget

Cash, Calculator, Pen

GORKI. Oct 13 (Interfax) – The Russian government on Thursday gave its general backing to the draft federal budget for 2017 and the planning period 2018 and 2019, the Cabinet’s press office told reporters. The draft socio-economic forecast for the period was also approved. “All the documents submitted for approval at the Cabinet meeting were approved. There will be some […]

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Russia to Increase Military Spending While Slashing Welfare Budget

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 4, 2016) Russia’s military spending is set to increase by 679 billion rubles ($10 billion) despite the welfare budget decreasing by 375 billion rubles ($6 billion), the Gazeta.ru news website reported Tuesday, citing a source in the government. The government’s finance ministry published a bill of amendments to the welfare budget on Monday, announcing […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on budget planning

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Kremlin.ru – September 28, 2016) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on federal budget planning. Participants discussed the budget policy priorities for the upcoming period. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, Government efforts to draft the federal budget are entering the final stage. By November 1, the draft is to be submitted to the 7th State Duma. I am confident that […]

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Russian Finance Ministry not proposing progressive income tax scale after 2018

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Sept 7 (Interfax) – The Russian Finance Ministry has not suggested introducing a progressive income tax scale after 2018. “We’re not proposing a progressive income tax scale [after 2028]. We’re not discussing one and we’re not proposing one,” Deputy Finance Minister Ilya Trunin told reporters. The Vedomosti newspaper has quoted sources as saying the Finance Ministry had suggested several […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government finds itself under social spending pressure in election season” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

The Russian government will discuss either indexing pensions by 8.6% on September 1 or making a one-time payment to pensioners …. Despite the ongoing efforts to consolidate the budget amid the unprecedented fiscal squeeze, the government might have to give in to increasing social spending as the two-year election season starts …. The Russian government needs to find RUB2 trillion ($31bn) from somewhere […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Village Resists Privatization Effort Championed by Putin. Locals, activists and lawmakers rally to prevent sale of century-old state-owned dairy plant.” – Wall Street Journal

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

The Russian government’s privatization drive soured in a village called Milk. The dairy plant here that for more than a century has churned out Russia’s most-recognizable brand of butter was scheduled to be auctioned in mid-February, the latest target to raise cash for the budget. But after locals, activists and lawmakers held rallies and petitioned President Vladimir Putin and other […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Russian Media

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Kremlin.ru – May 28, 2016) Following the Russian-Greek talks, Vladimir Putin met with Russian media representatives. Question: Mr President, may I ask you a question about domestic policy rather than talks with Greece? Vladimir Putin: Are you having trouble sleeping? Remark: I am. The whole country is thinking about this issue. Vladimir Putin: Go ahead. Question: Mr Medvedev visited Crimea […]

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Was Russia’s First Bond Sale in 3 Years a Success?

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – May 26, 2016) [Chart here themoscowtimes.com/business/article/was-russias-first-bond-sale-in-3-years-a-success/570254.html] Bidding opened suddenly on the morning of May 23. After a three-year absence from international markets, and with very little warning, Russia announced it wished to borrow billions of dollars. The Finance Ministry sought to help finance a yawning budget deficit caused by the low price […]

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Putin’s Advisors to Outline Russian Economic Reform

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 23, 2016) Russia’s latest economic reform package is set to cut state spending and raise the retirement age, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Monday. The reforms, which are due to be discussed Wednesday May 25 by President Vladimir Putin’s economic council, will focus heavily on stimulating domestic investment. It is the first time the council […]

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Putin walks fiscal tightrope; deficits seen to 2020

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – ANDRE TARTAR AND OTT UMMELAS – May 7, 2016) If the Russian government’s in-house forecaster is right that muted oil prices are here to stay, budget deficits will stretch to the end of this decade, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Under the Economy Ministry’s projection that oil will average $40 a barrel through 2019, […]

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Russia’s Oil Dilemma Explained

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman -March 8, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-09/russia-s-dilemma-squeeze-oil-industry-without-strangling-growth-ilk2y8i4] While the world focuses on Russia’s oil-freeze talks with OPEC, there are discussions behind closed doors in the Kremlin that will have a much more significant impact on the nation’s energy industry. The petrodollars that underpin Russia’s national budget are evaporating. When crude prices were high, increasing revenue […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Medvedev on] The Government’s action plan to ensure stable socioeconomic development in 2016

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – February 18, 2016) Excerpts from Dmitry Medvedev’s opening remarks at the Government meeting: The budget sector and the real sector are overstrained today due to low oil prices and sanctions, so there have been a lot of proposals to be included in the plan but far from all of them were incorporated into the final version. We need […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia government mulls five percent cut in defense procurement spending: sources” – Reuters

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

Russia’s government is considering cutting spending on defense procurement this year by 5 percent … a move that would extend the budget squeeze to a sector that up to now has been immune …. The proposal has support across several ministries and in other state institutions, enough for it to go forward for discussion at a cabinet meeting, the sources […]

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Putin’s New Internet Czar Wants Apple and Google to Pay More Taxes

iPad file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov and Stepan Kravchenko – February 8, 2016) When he’s not checking Gmail on his MacBook, Vladimir Putin’s new Internet czar can’t stop railing against American technology companies. Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., collectively worth more than Russia’s gross domestic product, have all entered German Klimenko’s crosshairs since he was named Putin’s first Internet […]

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Putin Opens Asset Sales to Foreigners as Budget Gap Widens

Empty Boardroom

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Andrey Biryukov – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin will allow foreign investors to bid for stakes in some of Russia’s largest companies as the government prepares its most ambitious asset-sale program in years to close a widening budget gap. “Russia was and remains open for foreign investment and Russia is interested in […]

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Russians suggest state should save money on officials, not on social policy

Kremlin and River

(Interfax – January 27, 2016) In the situation of the crisis, Russians support the idea of saving money on officials, but believe it is unacceptable to cut the costs of healthcare, social policy, science and education, sociologists have reported, citing a poll conducted by VTsIOM. The poll, which surveyed 1,600 people, in 130 populated areas in 46 regions, was conducted […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s pensioners squeezed as recession bites” – Financial Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Financial Times covers the impact of Russia’s economic downturn on older Russians. Several Russian regions have over the past year been forced to suspend benefit payouts or stop the inflation indexing of public sector wages. … The dramatic slide in crude prices has slashed revenues from the export of oil and gas which account for more than half Russia’s […]

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Putin urges government to be ready for any economic scenario

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – January 13, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the government to closely monitor changes in the economic situation and be ready for any turn. “We should be ready for any scenario,” he said at a meeting with Cabinet members. The president drew attention to how the situation changes on the markets. “I know that the government has […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: “Vladimir Putin Warns Government May Cut Budget Over Oil Price Fall. Russian president says peak of crisis is over, sees return to growth next year.”

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December address, and prospects of Russian budget cuts prompted by oil-related economy downturns. … Putin said on Thursday that the government may have to cut the federal budget because of a plunge in oil prices, but tried to reassure Russians that the worst of the economic crisis was over. At […]

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Majority of Muscovites Support Truck Driver Protests – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2015) More than 70 percent of Moscow residents aware of the ongoing protest by truck drivers support their action, a poll released Wednesday by the independent Levada Center indicated. While the majority of Muscovites are familiar with the protest, 21 percent of the capital’s residents said they had heard nothing about it, while […]

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Tax system in Russia to remain unchanged for next few years – PM

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Dec 9 (Interfax) – The Russian government is not planning to raise taxes in the country in the next few years, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Currently a decision has been made, it was supported by the president, that we in the next few years will not touch the tax system in general and we will not touch […]

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Truckers’ Strike Won’t Lead to Political Change in Russia, Gontmakher Says

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 7, 2015) Pro-Kremlin writers have argued that the deteriorating economic situation will lead Russians to willingly tighten their belts, and opposition ones have suggested that economic problems will lead to political protests and even regime change. But both are wrong, Yevgeny Gontmakher says. In a commentary today, the Moscow economic analyst […]

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Why are Russian truckers protesting? 10 questions and answers

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

For over a month now, long-haul drivers in Russia have been engaged in a mass protest, staging rallies across the country, which have now reached Moscow. Truckers, especially those who are self-employed or work for small businesses, believe that the recently introduced additional toll for using federal highways will put their business on the brink of bankruptcy. (Russia Beyond the […]

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Truck Protests Signal New Kind of Social Activism

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – December 4, 2015) “I think I will set my car on fire soon. The tax will take us all down. I get 112 rubles a month in social payments for my kid – how am I supposed to raise him on that?” says Rasul, a truck driver from Russia’s North Caucasus republic […]

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Medvedev: Retirement age has to be raised sooner or later

Two Babushkas file photo

(Interfax – November 11, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has for the first time definitively supported the future raising of the retirement age without saying when this decision may be made. At present, the retirement age in Russia is 60 years for men and 55 years for women. The Finance Ministry insists there is no other way to resolve […]

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Russian Military Spending to Increase by Less Than 1% Next Year

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – October 27, 2015) Russia’s defense spending is set to increase by a modest 0.8 percent next year, falling far short of the estimated 10 percent annual budget increases required over the next five years to hit equipment modernization targets mandated by President Vladimir Putin. Russian military expenditure has been rising since 2011, […]

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Moscow’s Spending Cuts Undermining Russians’ Health and Reducing Life Expectancy

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 21, 2015) Guzel Ulumbekova, the head of the Russian Association of Professional Medical Societies, says that the health and life expectancy of Russians is directly related to the amount of government spending on health care and that as this amount is falling, their health is suffering and their life expectancies are […]

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Russian MinFin adjusts revenue for 2016 budget to 13.74 trln rubles, spending to 16.1 trln rubles

Anton Siluanov file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 22 (Interfax) – The Russian Finance Ministry has increased the parameters for the revenue and spending of the 2016 federal budget to 13.738 trillion rubles and 16.098 trillion rubles, respectively, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists. “Revenue is 13.7385 trillion and spending is 16.0987 trillion rubles,” he said. Earlier the draft budget envisaged revenue of 13.57 trillion […]

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