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: “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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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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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Medvedev at] Moscow Financial Forum” – Government.ru

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – September 8, 2017) Dmitry Medvedev addressed a plenary session of the Moscow Financial Forum titled Financial System of the 21st Century Competitive Economy: Challenges and Solutions. The Moscow Financial Forum is a platform for professional discussions aimed to build up effective solutions in the sphere of financial policy and enhance the competitiveness of the Russian economy. MFF 2017 […]

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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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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Vladimir Putin’s news conference following BRICS Summit”- KremlinRu

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2017) Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions following his visit to China to take part in the BRICS Summit. Vladimir Putin summed up the results of the BRICS Summit and his talks with foreign leaders on the Summit’s sidelines, and shared his perspective on pressing international issues. Transcript of the news conference for Russian journalists President […]

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Russia Is an Emerging Superpower in Global Food Supply; Climate change is working against other regions but in favor of the Eurasian Grain Belt.

File Image, Map of Russian Wheat Production by Region, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – September 4, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Russia is often seen as a country that produces little that the world wants except energy commodities. The oil export dependence looks like a major time […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] Meeting of BRICS leaders with delegation heads from invited states”

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Kremlin.ru – September 5, 2017) Vladimir Putin attended a meeting of BRICS leaders with delegation heads from invited states, including the heads of state and government of Egypt, Tajikistan, Mexico, Guinea and Thailand. The meeting participants discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and prospects for further developing their partner relations. Before the meeting, the BRICS leaders […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] BRICS Summit” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Kremlin.ru – Sept. 4, 2017) Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the BRICS leaders that was held within the framework of the two-day BRICS summit in Xiamen, China. President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of China Xi Jinping, President of Brazil Michel Temer, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma met in […]

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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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RUSSIALINK: “BRICS: Towards New Horizons of Strategic Partnership” – KremlinRu/

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Kremlin.ru – September 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s article BRICS: Towards New Horizons of Strategic Partnership was published ahead of the BRICS Summit, which will be held in Xiamen, China, on September 4 and 5. The 9th BRICS Summit will be held in Xiamen, China, on September 4 and 5. I consider it important in this regard to present Russia’s approaches […]

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Russia Expands Grip on Wheat Exports as Asia Set to Buy More

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Manisha Jha, Anatoly Medetsky – August 31, 2017) Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, is about to grab even more customers in the fast-growing economies of Asia — a region that normally gets most of its imported grain from somewhere else. A farm industry that emerged from the former Soviet Union to become a wheat-trade powerhouse […]

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What Jolted Russia’s Investments Is About to Fizzle Out; From pipelines to cash registers, the factors that caused last quarter’s pickup in investment are only temporary

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 30, 2017) [Text with charts bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/what-jolted-russia-s-investments-is-about-to-fizzle-out] Russian investments have spiked to a five-year high as the economy exited recession, but the factors that drove the boom are already fading. Fixed-capital investment accelerated an annual 6.3 percent in the second quarter, according to Bank of Russia estimates, the most since 2012. The jump […]

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Russians worry most about price rise, poverty, unemployment – poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Aug 31 (Interfax) – Price rise still tops the list of social problems in the eyes of Russians, although its topically has declined over recent years, from 78% in 2015 to 61% now, Levada Analytical Center told Interfax. The other two of the top three problems are poverty and massive destitution (45%), and growing unemployment, corruption and bribery (33%). […]

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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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Russian Ports and Railways Start to Feel Strain of Giant Harvest

Black Sea Satellite Photo file image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anatoly Medetsky – August 30, 2017) Russia’s massive grains harvest is starting to put a strain on the country’s ability to ship out and store crops. Grains output is set to surpass a Soviet-era record and exports in the season that began in July may be the biggest since the USSR collapsed a quarter of a […]

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Rusia destroys 17,600 tonnes of embargo-busting produce since August 2015 – watchdog

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

MOSCOW. Aug 28 (Interfax) – Since August 6, 2015, Russia has destroyed 17,600 tonnes of food products imported to Russia in violation of the partial embargo, Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) reported. Products from plant cultivation account for 17,140 tonnes of the total, while 475 tonnes of livestock farming products have been destroyed. In the two years […]

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Interfax: Russian GDP could grow more than 2% in Aug, 2017 – Oreshkin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

PARIS. Aug 29 (Interfax) – Russian GDP growth could quicken to more than 2% in August, Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin told reporters in Paris. The economy could also grow more than 2% for 2017 as a whole, he said following a meeting with French business leaders. “We expect growth [year-on-year GDP growth] will return to more than 2% as […]

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Leonid Bershidsky: Trump’s Business Record in Russia Is Humiliating; He never had what it takes to negotiate with Moscow.

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 29, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. The latest Trump-Russia revelations — this time concerning a Moscow real estate project scuttled in early 2016 — fit in well with the comical history of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Despite New U.S. Sanctions, Russian Oil Traders Say It’s Business as Usual” – Reuters

Oil Well file photo

“Russian oil companies will quickly find ways to work around tighter restrictions imposed this month by the United States on the foreign finance they can use, multiple Russian oil industry sources told Reuters. … new restrictions cut the period that U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days … part of a fresh package of U.S. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian economy boss: sanctions no longer bite” – AP

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

“… Maxim Oreshkin … [said that] the Russian economy is on track to grow at least 2 percent this year. That would be a first after 2014, when the economy sank into recession driven by sinking oil prices and sanctions over Russian actions in Ukraine. … he said, ‘we see more willingness on the Asian side to work with us.’ He wouldn’t […]

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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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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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Interfax: Moscow press review for August 24, 2017 [excerpt][re: economy]

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

MOSCOW. Aug 24 (Interfax) – The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on August 24. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories. POLITICS & ECONOMICS Given the protracted economic crisis and falling incomes, Russians are increasingly seeking work in the shadow economy. Since 2016, the share of Russians who have at least occasionally worked unofficially […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Corruption Case Puts Sechin in the Spotlight” – Carnegie Moscow Center/ Konstantin Gaaze

Igor Sechin file photo

“The high-profile trial of former Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev is not playing out according to the script that most analysts had expected. The prosecution’s case increasingly relies on the testimony of one man, state oil chief Igor Sechin, making this master of Kremlin intrigue potentially politically vulnerable. The powerful reputation of the official said to be Russia’s second most […]

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Interfax: Russian wheat harvest may reach record 79-82 mln tonnes this year – IKAR

File Image, Map of Russian Wheat Production by Region, adapted from image at usda.gov

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – Russia’s Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) has once more raised its forecast for the grain harvest this year. The wheat harvest may reach a record 79 million-82 million tonnes this year, up from 73.3 million tonnes last year, IKAR General Director Dmitry Rylko told Interfax. IKAR previously forecast that the wheat harvest would amount […]

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Interfax: Russian consumer prices unchanged, annual inflation down to 3.7% in week

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) – Russian consumer prices were unchanged in the week of August 15-21, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. Russia had 0.1% deflation the previous three weeks as prices fell for the first time since early August 2016. Inflation was much lower than expected at 0.1% in July despite weekly inflation for the month being 0.3%. […]

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Soviet-Era Grain Record Seen Tumbling on Bumper Russian Crop

File Image, Map of Russian Wheat Production by Region, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anatoly Medetsky – August 21, 2017) A quarter century after the collapse of the USSR, Russian farmers are finally poised to beat the record for grain production that the country set during the Soviet era. The harvest will total at least 130.7 million metric tons this year on bumper wheat and corn crops, said Vladimir Petrichenko, […]

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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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Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 14, 2017) After alerting the Western world to the alarming rise of inequality, Thomas Piketty has turned his attention to Russia. To someone who has lived through Russia’s transition from Communism to crony capitalism, his take on that transition reveals deep flaws in his overall methodology — but some of his conclusions […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Without reforms, economic sclerosis awaits; What are Putin’s economic policy options if he retains power in 2018?” – Intersection/ Georgy Bovt

Kremlin and River

“… it is increasingly difficult for a country like present-day Russia to survive and ‘wait through’ the present. The longer anyone postpones the political decisions about launching some ‘healing measures’, the larger the scale of economic and technological collapse there will be; the economic model will inevitably become less and less competitive the more policy makers sit on their hands. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia industrial production is rising in all eight federal districts” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Industrial output growth continued in the first half of this year in all of Russia’s eight federal districts (or Okrug in Russian, each district containing Russia 80 regions), according to the Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT). …”

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Russia setting priorities of its EAEU presidency – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

ASTANA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The Russian presidency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2018 will focus on trade barriers, interaction with international partners, labor standards, and support for exports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting in Astana on Monday. “Russia will be presiding in the Eurasian Union next year. We are setting […]

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The One Big Problem With New Russia Sanctions; Congress won’t let Trump waive penalties, which gives Moscow no reason to change its behavior.

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Meghan L. O’Sullivan – August 10, 2017) Meghan L. O’Sullivan is a Bloomberg columnist and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She served on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007, and was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. The latest round of congressional […]

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Econ Min approves creation of priority development areas in 11 mono-cities

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

St. Petersburg. Aug 11 (Interfax) – The Russian Economic Development Ministry has approved the creation of priority development areas (PDA) in 11 mono-cities – cities that are predominantly dependant on one industry or factory – in nine constituent members of the Russian Federation, the minstry’s press service said. The Economic Development Ministry commission has approved the creation of PDAs in […]

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NEWSLINK: “Marshall I. Goldman, Expert on Russian Economy, Dies at 87” – New York Times

Lit Candle with Reflection and Dark Background

“Marshall I. Goldman, who diagnosed deficiencies in Moscow’s economic policies for decades and was among the first Kremlinologists to predict the downfall of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, died on Aug. 2 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 87. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Back to the land: Russia’s farming transformation; Can government policy and a new foodie class turn the country into an agricultural force?” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“… With 123 million hectares in arable land – the world’s third-largest area behind only India and the U.S. – Russia has the potential to be an agricultural superpower. The country has 36,400 agricultural enterprises and 174,600 farmers, according to the 2016 agricultural census. … although the broader economy has been in the grip of recession over the past two […]

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Moscow’s Makeover Swaps Soviet Grit for Urban Sparkle; Smart city apps, historically accurate trees, a working subway. While Washington obsesses over sanctions and hacks, Russia is rebranding its capital as a model of urban planning.

Moscow Aerial View Satellite Image File Photo, adapted from image at jpl.nasa.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Valerie Stivers – August 10, 2017) [Text with photos bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-08-10/moscow-s-makeover-swaps-soviet-grit-for-urban-sparkle] Moscow felt medieval when I first arrived almost 20 years ago, in January 1998, seeking adventure. There were few billboards, advertisements, or shop windows filled with merchandise. The women working at my local producti, or small grocery store, wore shawls, had moles and wens, and weighed […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Wants Innovation, but It’s Arresting Its Innovators” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Skolkovo File Photo

“… The troubles of Mr. Trubitsyn, however, may help explain why such a breakthrough has proved so elusive: The Russian state, which Mr. Putin has made the main vehicle for his plans for the nation’s resurgence, often stifles growth. A bureaucracy empowered by a steady erosion of democratic checks and balances can often smother new ideas. Grand state-directed projects to […]

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The Stunning Story of Russian Minister Ulyukayev’s Arrest for Bribery, Explained

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 8, 2017) Alexei Ulyukayev, the first serving Russian minister to be arrested since the fall of the Soviet Union, will appear in court on Tuesday, after being accused of soliciting a bribe from the country’s largest oil company. The former Economic Development Minister has been under house arrest since his detention in the dead […]

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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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NEWSWATCH: “Why New U.S. Sanctions Could Be a Ticking Time Bomb for Investors in Russia” – Moscow Times/ Elisabeth Braw, Nabi Abdullaev

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

“The 755 staff forced to leave the U.S. embassy by … Putin may seem to have little to do with private companies wishing to invest in Russia. But in reality, they’re closely linked. … international companies planning to invest in Russia or already doing business there now face more uncertainty. And six months from now, a ticking bomb wrapped in […]

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Will New U.S. Sanctions Regime Finally Hit Putin and Those Closest to Him?

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2017) Western sanctions on Russia up to now have hit the ordinary people of that country, although not as hard as the countersanctions the Kremlin itself has imposed. But the Western actions have done less to affect those closest to Vladimir Putin who, unlike the Russian people, may be in […]

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Russia’s Medvedev Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Ends Hope For Better Ties

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Aug. 3, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/trump-signs-russia-sanctions-bill/28655189.html) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sharply denounced the sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on August 2, saying it ends hope for improving relations and ignites “an all-out trade war with #Russia.” “The hope for improving our relations […]

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NEWSWATCH: “President Trump signs Russia sanctions bill” – ABC

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… Trump today signed a bill aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election despite his reservations … passed with rare and overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress …. The bill limits the president’s ability to lift or waive sanctions against Russia and keeps in place sanctions the Obama administration imposed …. It also allows the U.S. to deny […]

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U.S. Sanctions Are Another Gift to Putin; Far from being hurt by them, he finds them useful.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 31, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to Western sanctions in ways its authors probably didn’t anticipate: by going after those Russians who could most help […]

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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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Moscow’s Facelift as Modernization

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV – July 27, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapital Central Moscow has been a scene of digging […]

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