Putin Nominates Bank of Russia Head Nabiullina for New Term

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Stepan Kravchenko – March 22, 2017) Russian President Vladimir #Putin told Bank of #Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina he plans to nominate her for a new 5-year term, praising her stewardship of the central bank as the country emerges from the longest recession this century. “The central bank under your leadership has done a #great […]

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NEWSLINK: “PUTIN’S ECONOMY IS SO BAD, MANY RUSSIANS CAN’T AFFORD NEW SHOES” – Newsweek

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“To see the state of Vladimir Putin’s economy, look down at Russians’ feet. The weakening ruble is making Russians more cautious about their purchases, and annual shoe sales across the country have dropped in recent months as Russians wait for their footwear to completely wear out before buying new ones ….”

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This Recovery Isn’t for Everyone as Inequality Reshapes Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – March 22, 2017) A snapshot of Russia’s consumer welfare painted a picture of a country increasingly cleaved by inequality. A surprise deterioration of retail sales in February, alongside an unexpected plunge in real disposable incomes, is adding to evidence of what Morgan Stanley is calling an “uneven consumer recovery” driven by rising disparity […]

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Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian

Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – March 21, 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. Monday’s hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election and the alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin yielded inspiring news for […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects meeting

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects at the Kremlin. Participants in the meeting reviewed progress in the implementation of priority projects in healthcare, as well as measures aimed at enhancing labour efficiency. Transcript of the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects President […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy

Russia Map

(Kremlin.ru – March 20, 2017) Mr Donskoy briefed the President on measures to enhance the efficiency of subsoil resource use, develop a system of protected natural zones, and support eco-tourism. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Donskoy, we discussed with you on many occasions the question of effective subsoil use. I know the Ministry has prepared a roilange of instruments, […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Why Russia does not want to join OPEC; Russia sees oil club as a competitor, though they share tactical interests”

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – MARIA KUTUZOVA, SPECIAL TO RBTH) Russia is not considering joining OPEC, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak has told a U.S. conference. Speaking during the CERAWeek Oil Conference in Houston, Texas early March Novak added: “But our cooperation with the oil exporting countries has proven to be necessary and useful.” He has often spoken […]

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Russians Happier Than They Look, UN Study Shows

UN Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 20, 2017) Don’t be misled by those grumpy faces on the Moscow metro: Russia is the 49th happiest place on Earth and it is becoming happier, a new study has found. The United Nation’s yearly World Happiness Report measures “subjective well-being” in 155 countries along criteria such as GDP per capita and life expectancy, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Plenary session of Congress of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Kremlin.ru – March 16, 2017) Vladimir Putin addressed a plenary session of the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The congress is being held as part of the X Russian Business Week (RBW) on March 13-17, hosted by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The RBW participants coordinate proposals on key areas of interaction between the […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Vice-premier: Russia has a unique phenomenon – workers are officially poor”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

Olga Golodets speaks out about worrying trend in the country: despite having regular jobs, millions of people are stuck below the poverty line due to poor wages. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – March 16, 2017) Russian Vice-Premier Olga Golodets has highlighted the fact that alarmingly low wages in the country are keeping people with regular jobs below the […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with General Director of Agency for Strategic Initiatives Svetlana Chupsheva

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with General Director of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives [ASI] Svetlana Chupsheva. The discussion focussed on the Agency’s work on key activity areas, in particular, developing the investment climate and business activity in Russia and support for social and business projects. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Chupsheva, have […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Government members

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 14, 2017) Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members in the Kremlin. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, We will begin with s number of current issues. The epidemic level seems to be on the decline, but the situation is still serious. Even Mr Medvedev could not stay out of harm’s way, and caught […]

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Russia Wants Immigrants the World Doesn’t;  While Europe and the U.S. tighten border controls, former Soviet states are encouraged by Moscow to send their workers.

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Ragozin – March 14, 2017) [Text with photos here bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-14/russia-s-alternative-universe-immigrants-welcome] On a brutally cold February day, hundreds of laborers from Uzbekistan mill around in the snow and mud of a construction site 10 miles outside Moscow. Surrounding them are a series of unfinished 18-story apartment blocks meant to serve as homes for Russian military officers. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian inflation falls below 5% for the first time since Soviet days” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s consumer price inflation … dropped below 5% for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a quarter of a century ago. Inflation was 4.6% y/y in February, according to Rosstat, down from 5% in January and in line with the Bloomberg consensus for the month. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Online dissidents expose the Russian prime minister’s material empire; The truth about Dmitry Medvedev lives on the Internet” – Washington Post

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

“… #Medvedev has been seen in [items] … ordered online and delivered to an address linked to a web of companies and charities controlled by close confidants and relatives. After months spent probing the network, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by opposition activist Alexei #Navalny, has released a video and documentation it says show … Medvedev has accumulated more than $1 billion worth of […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian corporate governance comes in from the ‘Caveman era'” – bne Intellinews/Jason Corcoran

“Russia’s new corporate governance code … in place for two years, is being increasingly adhered to, according to market participants. Other reforms undertaken by the Moscow Exchange – as well as an increase in domestic liquidity – is accelerating the trend for more companies to list in the Russian capital rather than in London. …” [featured image is file photo, […]

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Russia Is Running on More Than Just the Black Stuff; The world’s largest energy producer is out of its longest recession in two decades

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova- March 7, 2017) [Charts here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/russia-is-running-on-more-than-just-the-black-stuff] Russia has exited recession, with a little help from the boys in uniform, a major statistical revision – and the global oil price. And not just any recession, but its longest in two decades. So what happened? 1. Is the economy really out of the woods? Actually, the […]

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The Russian Billionaires on Bloomberg’s Rich List; Only a select few of Russia’s oligarchs make it to the top of the world’s rich lists.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – March 6, 2017) Russia is home to droves of millionaires, business owners and oligarchs: but only a select few make it to the top of the world’s rich lists. Just eight Russian businessmen have made it into the top 100 of Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Together, they boast an estimated net worth of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia pushes to rid itself of ‘Potemkin’ banks by 2019” – Reuters/Alexander Winning, Andrey Ostroukh

“Russia plans to extend a review of bank licenses for another two years, shutting down scores more banks after closing hundreds in the past four years, mostly for committing fraud or other crimes …. Vasily Pozdyshev, a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank, says … his team is still finding more propping up criminal activity and would need until 2019 …. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Is the Russia You’re So Afraid Of?” – New York Times/Maria Antonova

Russia Regions Map

“… neglect began after the Communist system collapsed and has continued …. Russia is projecting its power from Ukraine to Syria to Western Europe…. [there are] allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the American presidential election …. support for … Putin is high and disdain for America … serves as … an artificial social cohesive …. Most people’s lives focus on economic survival … but … state television […]

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NEWSLINK: “A TALE OF TWO CITIES” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

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

“‘Putin projects Russian might. A decaying town tells a different story’. So says Maria Antonova in an article in Sunday’s New York Times. Antonova comes from the town of Donskoi in Tula province, a few hours south of Moscow, and her grandfather was mayor in Soviet times. After the USSR collapsed, Donskoi’s industry collapsed too. Now, says Antonova, the town […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kyiv Post Editorial: Russia’s War Against Ukraine: Borders Harden”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“After three years of war, the Russians are hardening their stance towards Ukraine. Without a stronger response from the West and Ukraine’s leaders, Ukraine stands to forever lose parts of the eastern Donbas now under Russian-separatist control. … amount[ing] to 2.5 percent of Ukraine’s territory or 15,341 square kilometers. The Russian side has begun a campaign to nationalize Ukrainian businesses […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The fate of Russian stocks hinges on politics and oil” – CNBC/Rebecca Ungarino

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

“… The Moscow composite index is down nearly 8 percent year to date, underperforming the U.S. by nearly 15 percent as optimism around the possibility of the removal of trade sanctions against Russia fades. And crude oil, which weighs heavily on the Russian economy, has traded in a narrow range so far this year, offering no help to Russian stocks. […]

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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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Putin’s Russia Seen Dominating European Gas for Two Decades

Gas Flame file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva, Anna Shiryaevskaya – March 1, 2017) Europe has wanted to wean itself from Russian natural gas ever since supplies from its eastern neighbor dropped during freezing weather in 2009. Almost a decade later, the region has never been more dependent. Gazprom PJSC, Russia’s state-run export monopoly, shipped a record amount of gas to the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Belarus Can’t Afford to Be the New Ukraine; Is it too late for Lukashenko to defy Russia?” – The National Interest/Nikolay Pakhomov

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“On February 3 Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko launched the fiercest of his rhetorical attacks against Russia  …. moderate estimates show that Belarus has received approximately $100 billion of various Russian investments, preferences and support. … Politically, the Union State of Russia and Belarus that was formed in December 1999 never fully materialized. Furthermore, despite the geopolitical showdown between Russia and […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian real disposable income up for first time since 2014 on pension payout” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Rosstat recorded the first rise in Russian real disposable income in January since October 2014. However, Rosstat went on to say that the bump was caused by a one-time payment to pensioners of RUB5000 (€81.69) in lieu of indexing their pensions at above the rate of inflation. …”

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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: [Putin] Meeting with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 21, 2017) Sergei Sobyanin updated the President on Moscow’s socioeconomic development in 2016, the implementation of several large transport projects, including the launch of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line, and renovation of the housing stock. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, let us talk about Moscow’s performance in 2016 and plans for 2017. Moscow […]

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Putin Orders Demolition of Moscow’s Iconic Post-War Apartment Blocks

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – February 21, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the complete demolition of Moscow’s post-war Khrushchevkas: Soviet housing blocks which once offered hope to millions of families after World War II. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Tuesday that 1.6 million Muscovites were still living in the buildings, many of which were […]

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Half of Russia Still in Crisis Prepares for Worse to Come

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 20, 2017) The half of Russia’s economy that hasn’t got wind of a recovery is already hunkering down for the crisis to come. Once indispensable for the country’s prospects, consumption flat-lined well below zero throughout last year even as the broader economy defied gloom. From the ruble to industrial output and wages, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Study looks at free-trade-with-Russia scenario. Free trade between the EU and Russia could bring enormous benefits for both sides, a study by the Munich-based Ifo economic research institute suggests. Only, the Ukraine conflict still stands in the way.” – Deutsche Welle

EU Map

A free trade area for the European Union, Russia and other states would have economic advantages for all sides involved, according to model-based calculations by the Ifo research institute. … The study admits that a free trade agreement of this kind is barely conceivable as long as the Ukraine conflict remains unsettled and Western sanctions against Russia are in place. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian IPO wave on the way” – bne/Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“A wave of Russian IPO could be gathering momentum out to sea after iconic toy store Detsky Mir placed its €333mn IPO earlier this month. Russia’s equity market has come back to life with about $1.9bn worth of securities issued in just the last three months. …”

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Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative. Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov welcomed Moody’s decision. […]

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Russia’s Largest Oilfield May Be About to Gush Cash Once Again

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman, Andrey Biryukov – February 15, 2017) #Russia’s largest #oil field, so far past its prime that it now pumps almost 20 times more water than crude, could be on the verge of gushing profits again for #Rosneft PJSC. Samotlor, the 25 billion-barrel giant that bankrolled the Soviet Union for decades, would be the biggest […]

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Brazil, Russia Get Top Marks in Emerging Market Survey

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Yumi Teso, Lilian Karunungan – February 12, 2017) [Charts here https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-12/brazil-russia-favored-in-emerging-market-survey-china-dodged] Combine the prospects for interest-rate cuts with their higher carry-trade returns and two countries stand out as the best bets this year in emerging markets: Brazil and Russia. In a survey of 16 investors and analysts conducted Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the nations’ bonds […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil; Russia’s Central Bank last week said appetite was low for an increase in lending rates” – UPI/Daniel J. Graeber

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel … [Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina] said. … The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much … depends on the price of […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/Vzglyad: “Food import substitution turns out to be extremely profitable”

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“Russia has saved $4 billion since it began substituting imported products in response to the imposition of food embargoes by the U.S. and EU, the Agriculture Ministry says. But is this enough to encourage the future growth of production?”

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NEWSWATCH: “With court ruling, Kremlin moves to block political biggest threat: Navalny. The ruling reinstating a guilty verdict for anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny effectively rules him out of next year’s presidential race. But it may help him remain a viable Kremlin opponent.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Kremlin and River

“The legal odyssey of Russia’s best-known opposition leader, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been mindbogglingly complicated, full of twists and turns. … with a simple and totally predictable political result. … a regional court’s ruling … upheld … Navalny’s embezzlement conviction and handed him a five-year suspended sentence … [making it] almost impossible for him to run against … Putin […]

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Interfax: Lifting of some restrictions from FSB confirms Trump’s intention to normalize relations with Russia – former FSB Director Kovalyov

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to drop some restrictions imposed earlier on the issuance of licenses and permits to export computer technologies to Russia shows that the Donald Trump administration is consistent in its efforts to normalize cooperation with Russia, Nikolai Kovalyov, a State Duma deputy and former head of the Federal Security […]

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Bad Equilibrium” – project-syndicate/Anders Åslund

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

After more than two years of economic contraction, Russia seems to have achieved some semblance of stability. Though economic growth is expected to reach only about 1% in 2017, the fear of economic destabilization that has permeated the country since its 2014 invasion of Crimea – which was met with crippling sanctions from the West – has all but evaporated. […]

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Russians Are Getting Used to Being Broke

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Olga Kuvshinova – February 6, 2017) Russia’s recovery from the current recession continues to slow, according to the Economic Development Ministry. The reason: demand has plummeted. If that is the case, it means the Russian economy’s decline is in full swing despite official statements that the recession has ended. The decline in retail turnover – […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Expect Trump to End Sanctions All at Once but ‘Cleverly’ Over Time, Markov Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2017) “Russophobia is so deeply rooted in European-American ideology,” Sergey Markov says, that Moscow doesn’t expect new US President Donald Trump to end all sanctions all at once but rather “in a clever fashion” that avoids problems for him and over a significant period of time. The words of Markov, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians can no longer afford to pinch pennies on food”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

If incomes continue to drop, however, Russians won’t be able to cut their food budgets and still adequately feed themselves. Any further cuts could mean risking malnutrition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – Feb. 6, 2017) Consumers are not willing to further cut food spending even if their financial situation continues to deteriorate. Grocery spending […]

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