Nearly Half of All Russians Now Say They Can Live without Relying on the State, Sociologists Find

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 27, 2016) Given everything that has occurred in Russia over the past five years, few have noticed what can only be described as “a quiet revolution”: the percentage of Russians who say they don’t need to rely on the state has increased from 34 to 44 percent, with an ever rising […]

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Putin’s Decade-Old Dream Realized as Russia to Price Its Own Oil

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Eduard Gismatullin – April 27, 2016) Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the verge of realizing a decade-old dream: Russian oil priced in Russia. The nation’s largest commodity exchange, whose chairman is Putin ally Igor Sechin, is courting international oil traders to join its emerging futures market. The goal is to increase revenue from Urals crude […]

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RBTH: Polls: Corporate corruption in Russia falls to U.S. level

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

Russian companies have recorded a drop in the number of kickbacks and bribes in their sectors, a study by Ernst & Young has revealed. According to the survey, corporate corruption in Russia has dropped so much that it is now on a par with the U.S. A similar conclusion has been reached by experts from PwC. (Russia Beyond the Headlines […]

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Interfax: Business confidence rises in Russian extractive, manufacturing sectors

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) – The business confidence index in the Russian extractive industry grew for the third straight month in April, while the index in the manufacturing sector also grew, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. The business confidence index in the Russian extractive sector improved to minus (-) 2% in April, from -3% in March, -4% in […]

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NEWSWATCH Reuters: “Russia Grants Ukraine’s Request to Delay Eurobond Case Defense”

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

Russia has agreed to allow Ukraine extra time to file its defence with a British court … Russia filed a lawsuit … demanding repayment of the $3 billion Eurobond …. Ukraine insists Russia must accept restructuring terms agreed with other foreign creditors. … Ukraine had until March 19 to file its defence although it was granted an extension until April […]

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Putin Badly Needs a Domestic Plan

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 22, 2016) The Russian government has approved a sober, and sobering, economic forecast for the next three years. The country’s prospects look so joyless that President Vladimir Putin may finally start listening to the mainstream economists who have stuck with him despite his unconcealed preference for a huge public sector tempered with […]

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Russia will watch for “adverse consequences” of Ukraine-EU deal – Kremlin

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – April 21, 2016) Russia will only be “too happy” if Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU brings it economic stability and prosperity, but will take “balancing measures” if the deal has a negative impact on Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “This topic rather concerns the EU and Ukraine. As regards the economic aspect, to the extent that […]

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On My Mind [re: Kudrin and Pamfilova]

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – April 21, 2016) You have to wonder what drives people like Aleksei Kudrin and Ella Pamfilova. Both were in the news this week. Kudrin accepted an offer to chair the Kremlin’s top economics think tank, the Center for Strategic Reform, and called for a fundamental restructuring of Russia’s economy and political system. And […]

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Hard Work vs. Magic

Kremlin and River

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow, Kennan Institute. Editor-at-Large, Vedomosti Daily – April 19, 2016) Russian officials still refer to “conditions for doing business” or “quality of governance” when discussing the country’s economic performance. But the lack of gravitas in these conversations is palpable. Russia’s official economic policymakers command an excellent understanding of the country’s economic problems, […]

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More Than Half of Russians Want New Soviet State – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 21, 2016) More than half of Russians would like to see the restoration of the Soviet Union, according to a poll released Tuesday. Although 58 percent of respondents said they would like to see a new socialist system, only 14 percent believed that it was likely to happen, the report by the independent Levada […]

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NEWSLINK European Council on Foreign Relations/Nikolay Petrov: “Putin’s downfall: The coming crisis of the Russian regime.The current trajectory of the Russian regime is unstable and without dramatic change it will crumble within the next year, according to a leading Russia specialist”

Vladimir Putin » Read more

Russians Spend Half Their Incomes on Food For First Time Since 2008

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 19, 2016) For the first time since 2008 Russians are spending more than half their monthly income on food, as falling real incomes force them to buy only basic necessities, a study published Tuesday revealed. In February, Russians spent 50.1 percent of their earnings on food products, including alcohol and tobacco, according to the […]

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How Russia is moving ahead with its Asian pivot

Asia Map

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently visited Mongolia and Japan. His goal was to initiate a real “Eastern turn” in Russian foreign policy. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GEVORG MIRZAYAN, RBTH – April 20, 2016) At first glance Russia made an Eastward turn a long time before the West imposed sanctions on the country. However, until now we […]

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Bilateral trade: Russia and U.S. must ‘avoid the point of no return’

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Commodity turnover between Russia and the U.S. has declined by 50 percent since the introduction of sanctions However, Russia is not losing hope and is offering attractive conditions for small and medium-sized American businesses looking to invest in the country. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – April 20, 2016) [Charts here http://rbth.com/business/2016/04/20/bilateral-trade-russia-and-us-must-avoid-the-point-of-no-return_586555] With the introduction […]

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NEWSWATCH: “An Earful for Vladimir Putin in Latest ‘Direct Line’ Call-In Show” – Wall Street Journal/Stephen Sestanovich

Kremlin and River

The discussion had a darker undercurrent. The system is rigged, many said, and those who have power abuse it. … Putin was asked why more political parties aren’t permitted so that United Russia faces some meaningful competition, and why … Kadyrov, Chechnya’s strongman leader, whom … Putin supports, is allowed to threaten political opponents with assassination. … Putin heard how […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia. Down But Not Out. Part I.” – Foreign Affairs/Maria Lipman, Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Katie Allawala

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

Over the past decade and a half, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been an economic dynamo and a basket case, an imperfect democracy and a tightening tyranny, a constructive diplomatic actor and a serial military aggressor—sometimes all at once. The only constant has been surprise, as the zigging and zagging has left outside observers, and even many Russians, scratching their heads. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” – Foreign Affairs [issue table of contents with links]

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

Foreign Affairs foreignaffairs.com May/June 2016 issue Putin’s Russia Down But Not Out https://www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2016/95/3 [There is limited access to free articles] Russia’s Perpetual Geopolitics Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern Stephen Kotkin Russian Politics Under Putin The System Will Outlast the Master Gleb Pavlovsky Russia’s Constrained Economy How the Kremlin Can Spur Growth Sergei Guriev The Revival of the Russian Military […]

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Putin Swears Off Stimulus as Policy Mix Moves Toward ‘Orthodoxy’

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – April 17, 2016) It was by no means the showstopper of President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in with Russians, complete as it was with digs at the U.S. and justice dispensed on live television. Two days after Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina urged reforms and warned against the “big illusion” of using inflation […]

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Were the Panama Papers Planted? Who Cares.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 15, 2016) Last week, a respected Russia scholar in the U.S. speculated that the Kremlin might be behind the so-called Panama Papers, the big dump of data about offshore accounts that has implicated several countries’ officials in shady dealings. And on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia blamed the U.S. for the […]

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Ford Mulls New Russia Investment as Quarterly Sales Jump 93%

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Andrey Lemeshko, Yuliya Fedorinova – April 14, 2016) Ford Motor Co., which spent more than $1.5 billion with a partner in the past five years to build cars and engine factories in Russia, is studying new investments in the country in a bet on economic recovery. The national car market could still become Europe’s biggest, and […]

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Government incomes: Abyzov pulls into first place in 2015

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

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) – Open Government Affairs Minister Mikhail Abyzov, the only member of the government on the Forbes list of billionaires, pulled ahead of other members of the government in terms of income last year, thanks to a near doubling of his own earnings and a decline for his main competitor, Alexander Khloponin. Abyzov and his wife had […]

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Former Finance Minister in Line for Top Position at Putin’s Think Tank

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 13, 2016) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has been offered a senior position at Russia’s main think tank on economic policy and may participate in the development of a new economic strategy for the Kremlin. On Tuesday, Kudrin announced he would accept an offer to take a senior position at Russia’s […]

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What I Learned On Russian Television

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – April 15, 2016) I learned a lot more about the poor quality of Russian dairy products yesterday than I would care to know. I also learned that wages aren’t being paid, people can’t afford to buy medicine or pay utilities bills, that schools, kindergartens, and hospitals are being closed, that […]

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Putin doesn’t expect Western sanctions to be lifted soon, says Russia to keep countersanctions in place

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. April 14 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin does not expect the Western sanctions to be lifted from Russia in the near future. “I don’t think our partners will decide to lift the restrictions and limitations from our country in the near future,” Putin said during a Q&A session on Thursday. “Even though the Minsk Agreements on southeastern Ukraine […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Most Important Bank Needs a Bailout. VEB faces task of paying off about $20 billion in foreign-currency debt.” – Wall Street Journal

Cash, Calculator, Pen

When the Russian government needed to build up infrastructure in … Sochi ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, it turned to Russia’s most important lender: Vnesheconombank, the country’s state-owned development bank. … eventually holding the equivalent of at least $2.9 billion in overdue loans. … the bill is coming due. VEB for years kept its books in balance by […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery” – Intellinews.com

File Photo of Cash Register with Drawer Open and Hands of Cashier

Following a shaky start to the year – three of the first four weeks in 2016 saw annual decreases in footfall – activity in Russian shopping malls appears to have turned the corner, with the positive data of February continuing into March …. Click here for Intellinews.com: Russian shopping mall activity continues 2016 recovery [featured image is file photo, not […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Investors Starting to Show Interest in Russia Again: Credit Suisse.” – Reuters

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Investors are starting to look at Russia again after cutting off exposure amid geopolitical tensions two years ago, the head of Credit Suisse’s $60 million Russian Equity Fund said. There are no big inflows yet but a rebound in Russian stock markets in the past few months as the oil price and the rouble have picked up is encouraging interest […]

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Why Hedge Funds Are Loading Up on Rubles

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Popina – April 10, 2016) Managers of some of the best-performing funds from Berlin to New York are buying Russian ruble assets as the currency has rebounded 23 percent from a record low. Stuart Sclater-Booth, who helps oversee more than $40 billion at Stone Harbor Investment Partners, turned overweight on the ruble in mid-February and […]

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Dutch Voters Snub Kiev, Not Brussels

EU Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – April 7, 2016) It’s easy to discount the outcome of Wednesday’s Dutch referendum on Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union as another sign of minority discontent with the European project. It has far more significance than that though, particularly for Ukraine: The faltering state has failed to gain support among ordinary Europeans, […]

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Panama Papers scandal: What was the reaction in Russia?

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

Even though most Russian newspapers wrote about the discovery of the Panama offshore bank accounts belonging to politicians and businessmen close to Vladimir Putin, public reaction to the scandal was rather muted. Russians exchanged jokes and comments about the information policy of the main Russian TV channels, which, unlike the newspapers, did not report on the scandalous leak. (Russia Beyond […]

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Russian Inflation Slows More Than Forecast as Ruble Shock Fades

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – April 5, 2016) Russian inflation decelerated to the slowest pace in almost two years as withering consumer demand continues to weigh on prices and stronger oil propels a rally in the ruble. Consumer-price growth eased to 7.3 percent from a year earlier in March, compared with 8.1 percent in February, the Federal Statistics […]

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