When Baikal water will be more expensive than oil

Lake Baikal and Environs Satellite Photo

The average price of a bottle of drinking water in Moscow has become more expensive than what a bottle of Brent crude would cost. RBTH asks experts if it would be worthwhile for Russia to start exporting water from Lake Baikal. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GLEB FEDOROV, RBTH – February 5, 2016) [Charts here rbth.com/politics_and_society/society/2016/02/05/when-baikal-water-will-be-more-expensive-than-oil_564923] In January, […]

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Ukraine Bond Rout Worsens on Bets Political Tussle to Block Aid

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff – February 8, 2016) Ukrainian bonds slid, sending the yield on the nation’s shortest-dated restructured debt above 11 percent for the first time, as a political shakeup raised the likelihood for further delays to an international bailout that’s keeping the country afloat. The $1.15 billion of bonds maturing in September 2019 dropped 2.22 cents […]

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Russian Academia’s Struggle to Attract Top Talent

Skolkovo File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – February 8, 2016) About half an hour from the western outskirts of Moscow, the grays of Russian suburbia give way to a jagged horizon of shiny glass, concrete and abandoned building sites. A series of giant wooden pencils emerge, bearing the insignia “Skoltech.” The curious art installation signals arrival at the Skolkovo […]

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Investment in oil and gas exploration may drop 10-15% in 2016

Gas Facility file photo

(Interfax – February 7, 2016) Investment in geological exploration for oil and gas in Russia may reduce 10-15% in 2016, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoy said in a program aired by the NTV television channel. “Investment in hydrocarbon [exploration] will reduce somewhere between 10% and 15%, somewhere between these two digits,” he said. The minister said that […]

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Review: Arkady Ostrovsky’s ‘The Invention of Russia’

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

This new history tells a compelling, if normative, story of how Russia’s journalists and entrepreneurs threw off their former shackles, only to put them back on again. (opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – February 3, 2016) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared […]

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Russia’s latest anti-crisis plan: How will it work?

Kremlin and River

The Russian government is making fresh attempts to lead the economy out of the crisis, primarily by investing in industry. RBTH analyzes the Kremlin’s latest anti-crisis plan and offers three alternative strategies for overcoming the crisis. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – February 4, 2016) At the beginning of 2016 the signs for the Russian […]

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Russia sees 1% January inflation, annual falls to single figures – Rosstat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – Russia had 1% inflation in January 2016, compared with 0.8% in both December and November 2015, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. Analysts told Interfax in a consensus forecast at the end of January that they thought inflation for the month would be 1%. Inflation soared to 3.9% in January 2015 – the highest […]

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More Than Half of Russians Negative on State of Economy – Poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 5, 2016) More than half of Russians have a negative outlook for the economic situation, the highest amount since the country’s financial crisis began, the Kommersant newspaper reported Friday, citing a recent poll. According to the results of the poll carried out by the Obshchestvennoye Mnenie (Public Opinion) Foundation, 54 percent of Russians now […]

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Can Russia Be More Miserable? Judging by Oil, the Answer Is Yes

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Combining inflation and unemployment, Russia is among the world’s unhappiest economies (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Popina – February 4, 2016) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-04/can-russia-be-more-miserable-judging-by-oil-the-answer-is-yes] The sinking price of crude has Russia hostage over a barrel of oil. For an inkling of how unhappy everyday Russians have gotten as Brent crude heads further south, take a look at the Misery Index […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with the core group of the Leaders Club

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 3, 2016) Vladimir Putin met with the core group of the Leaders Club, an informal association of small and medium business owners from various economic sectors. The Leaders Club was established in February 2012 and is engaged primarily in having businesspeople provide independent evaluations of conditions for doing business in Russia’s regions and the quality of state […]

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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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Kremlin: Privatization of Russian companies open for foreign investors

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

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Privatization of Russian companies is open for foreign investors, and Russia is interested in attracting new foreign partners, the Kremlin has said. “Russia has always been interested in foreign investors; we value cooperation with those who continue to operate on the Russian market and we are interested in an inflow of fresh investments,” Kremlin press […]

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Putin Says No Privatization at Knockdown Prices

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 2, 2016) President Vladimir Putin on Monday threw cold water on proposals to quickly sell stakes in state companies to fill holes in Russia’s budget. “There should be no sale of shares cheaply, at giveaway prices. This won’t bring particular benefit to the budget,” Putin said at a meeting with officials and heads of […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting on privatisation

Empty Boardroom

(Kremlin.ru – February 1, 2016) Vladimir Putin held a meeting to discuss privatisation issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. We have met today to discuss the Government’s privatisation plans for 2016. I have just looked over a few issues with [Prime Minister] Mr Medvedev. The privatisation process plays an important part in changing the Russian economy’s structure […]

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Economic Minister says moderate economic growth possible in Russia in 2016

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev does not rule out the possibility of the Russian economy shifting to moderate growth in 2016. “A shift is already possible this year, perhaps, to moderate, recovery growth in the economy for the time being. We should be prepared for this,” Ulyukayev said at a ministry meeting on Feb. 2. […]

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Russians put economy, inflation on top of most pressing national problems

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Interfax – February 2, 2016) The economy, inflation, and low living standards have been viewed by the public as the top three most pressing problems in Russia, for the past six months, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) has said. The economy was the number one problem in the January rating. Concerns about economic affairs started growing in November […]

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Is There A Non-West for Russia to Lead?

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Keith Darden – January 28, 2016 – ponarseurasia.org/memo/non-west-for-russia-to-lead) Keith Darden is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Recently, Russian policymakers and strategists have articulated a vision of a vibrant non-Western world, one in which the United States and European leaders are increasingly marginal and where Russia […]

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As Ruble Nosedives, Russians Are Priced Out Of Live-Saving Western Treatment

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – February 1, 2016) As the ruble continues its catastrophic tumble, hitting another historic low last month, the pain is being felt keenly across Russia. Among those worst hit are patients in need of urgent surgery abroad or other life-saving treatment billed in foreign currencies. “It all started with a bad cough and a […]

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Four Russias: the new political reality

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

Uneven modernisation has left its mark on Russia, and the authorities are only too happy to exploit it. What does the future hold for Russia’s regional divide? (opendemocracy.net/American Enterprise Institute – Natalia Zubarevich – February 1, 2016) Natalia Zubarevich is a professor in the Department of Geography at Moscow State University and the director of the regional program at the […]

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Who benefits and who loses from revocation of anti-Iranian sanctions

Iran Map and Flag

If Moscow plays its cards correctly, it will be able to strengthen its positions not only in Iran but also throughout the entire Middle East. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – GEVORG MIRZAYAN – January 29, 2016) The lifting of sanctions against Iran has generated an entire wave of speculation about the upcoming reformation of the Middle East. However, […]

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The Upside of a Down Ruble

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – January 29, 2016) President Vladimir Putin chose an unfortunate time to trumpet the “additional opportunities” for Russian companies arising from a weaker ruble. As he spoke to delegates at a business forum on Jan. 20, the Russian currency was gyrating wildly. The next day it plummeted to its lowest level in recent […]

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Russia’s Great Shift Downward; Putin has shown little interest in changing the economic model.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – January 28, 2016) For Russia’s battered economy, 2016 already looks miserable. The ruble has slumped to record lows as oil prices have fallen 11 percent since Jan. 1, to around $30 a barrel. The government, which gets nearly half its revenue from oil and gas, is scrambling to plug a 1.5 trillion-ruble ($19.2 […]

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Russia Sanctions Can Be Lifted If Minsk Implemented – U.S. Ambassador

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2016) Sanctions against Moscow can be lifted after it implements the Minsk peace agreement with Ukraine, including restoration of Kiev control over separatist eastern regions, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Tefft said in an interview published on the U.S. Embassy’s website Thursday. Washington has the full backing of its European allies in […]

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Sweden delivers judgment in favor of Russia in dispute with Yukos holders

Map of Sweden and Environs

(Interfax – January 28, 2016) A Swedish appeals court upheld Russia’s appeal filed earlier in its dispute with the Spanish investment funds, which were holders of American Depositary Receipts (‘ADRs’) of Yukos, Kommersant newspaper reported on Jan. 28. The appeals court acknowledged the fact that the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce that sustained the funds’ claims to […]

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RBTH: Investors could benefit from Russia’s economic turmoil

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

As the Russian economy hits hard times, with business incomes falling, government spending facing cuts and the ruble losing value, RBTH spoke to Sergei Katyrin, president of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to find out how foreign companies are enduring the current “perfect storm” for business. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ILYA KROL, RBTH – January 28, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

(Kremlin.ru – January 26, 2016) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev to discuss current economic situation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ulyukayev, we are summing up last year’s results. Though it may yet be early to speak of final results, the numbers at the disposal of your Ministry are very close to […]

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Nine lingering myths about Russia

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

We are often held prisoner by imposed stereotypes and opinions about countries, people and events. RBTH has collected nine myths about Russia that are far from accurate. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – NATALYA PUKHOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – January 26, 2016) 1. The death rate in Russia is higher than its birth rate There is a widespread belief […]

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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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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow/Mikhail Krutikhin: “The Russian Oil Industry in the Era of Cheap Crude. A recent slight increase in Russia’s oil output is likely to be short-lived. Oil production may decline almost twofold by the end of the year due to a lack of financing for new field exploration and development.”

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Russians’ Real Wages Fall 9.5% in 2015

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 26, 2016) As Russia’s inflation reached double-digits last year, Russians saw their real wages decline by 9.5 percent compared to 2014, data published by the Rosstat state statistics service showed Monday. In December 2015, real wages of Russians dropped 10 percent when compared to the same month in 2014, according to Rosstat data. The […]

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At Davos forum Russia promises to eliminate its dependence on oil

Oil Well file photo

Russian representatives announced imminent large-scale economic reforms at the World Economic Forum. The proposed changes would affect the country’s dependence on oil and the facilitation of investors accessing the market. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – January 25, 2016) Low oil prices are helping the Russian government carry out large-scale reforms despite the drastic reduction […]

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The Exodus Equation: Study Shows Russian Math Geniuses Excelling In West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Antoine Blua – January 24, 2016) The massive exodus of scientists since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union is a known phenomenon that has greatly affected the field of mathematics. More than 30 speakers invited to address the 1986 International Congress of Mathematicians in California came from the Soviet Union — most of them from […]

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Record Number of Russians Empty-Handed at New Year – Poll

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 25, 2016) Twenty-three percent of Russians received no gifts for New Year – the highest percentage for six years, according to a poll conducted by state-run pollster VTsIOM. For those who did receive gifts, the most popular items were sweets, alcohol and delicacies – these items were received by 24 percent of respondents, according […]

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The poorer Russians get, the happier they become and other mysteries

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

Sometimes sociological surveys capture paradoxical results. For example, for some reason Russians on the whole feel happier when they are poorer and many people that claim to be Orthodox Christians do not go to church and do not believe in God. As the famous 19th century poet Fyodr Tyutchev once said, “Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone.” (Russia […]

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