Big Mac Fights Subway Shrimp in Russia Fast-Food Fracas

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Khrennikov – March 17, 2013) More than two decades after McDonald’s Corp. (MCD)’s outlet on Moscow’s Pushkin Square began offering a golden-arched alternative to grey communist eateries, the fast-food pioneer is on the defensive. McDonald’s, which virtually created the market for burgers and fries in the country and convinced Russians it’s okay to eat with […]

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First Locally Generated Rating Ups Russia, Downs U.S.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 18, 2013) Russia has begun to publish its own sovereign debt ratings in a move that is widely seen as a challenge to the grade given by U.S. rating agencies, which the Kremlin has said is not completely fair. Domestic rating agency Expert RA issued its first sovereign debt ratingsthis week, with Russia getting […]

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Can Russia Repeat Last Year’s GDP Growth?

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Viktor Kuzmin, special to RBTH – March 18, 2013) Russia led the G-8 and ranked second among BRICS countries in terms of economic growth rates in 2012. Experts make guesses whether Moscow will be able to replicate its performance in 2013. Russians have always had an appetite for risk ­ something the year […]

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Credit, not oil, to fuel Russia’s growth, says prognosis

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anastasia Matveyeva, Moskovskiye Novosti – March 18, 2013) Over the next few years, stagnation awaits the Russian economy, competitiveness of Russian producers will decline and the growth of incomes will slow down. This is the judgment of the consensus-prognosis for 2013-2014, published by the Center for Development at the Higher School of Economics. The economy […]

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Experts Raise Eyebrows on New Central Bank Chief

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Maximova, special to RBTH – March 18, 2013) The appointment of new Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiulina sparked debates about the future of Russia’s monetary policy and banking system. While some experts are sceptical about Nabiullina’s competence others remain optimistic. After Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Russia’s former economic minister Elvira Nabiullina […]

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New Central Bank Chief likely to Focus on Growth

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Tim Wall, RBTH – March 15, 2013) Elvira Nabiullina will probably increase Kremlin control over the regulator, but have to balance conflicting demands for looser monetary policy and lower inflation. While President Vladimir Putin’s nomination of Elvira Nabiullina, a former economy minister, as Russia’s new Central Bank chief, has been hailed as a […]

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Market Watchers Contemplate a Gazprom Reshuffle

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anatoly Medetsky – March 15, 2013) A new executive at the head of Gazprom could give a mighty boost to the stock price of the world’s biggest gas producer, especially if the replacement came with a policy change, according to managers that run funds with Russian assets. The belief comes even as there is understanding […]

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Nabiullina Likely to Pursue Dovish Policy, Yield to Political Pressure

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – March 14, 2013) Asked to end speculation about the identity of the next chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, President Vladimir Putin promised an “unexpected” candidate who would be well received. When it did come, the announcement that presidential adviser and former Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina would fill the post was a […]

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Russian Presidential Rights Council Calls for Denationalization of TV Channels

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Interfax – Moscow, 13 March 2013) The Presidential Council for Human Rights has called for a reform to denationalize federal TV channels in the next few years because it believes that the level of the authorities’ influence on their information policy is blocking the formation of an appropriate picture of modern Russian society. “The Council considers it necessary to recommend […]

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Without an Inspiring Project, Russia Will Disintegrate, Moscow Scholar Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, March 14, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/03/window-on-eurasia-without-inspiring.html) Unless Russia’s “ruling class” comes up with a sufficiently grandiose project capable to inspire the population and give it a new “passionate impulse,” there is little chance that the country will remain “a unified state,” according to a scholar at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State […]

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Labor Ministry: Birth Rate Up 10.5% in Russia

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

MOSCOW. March 13 (Interfax) – The birth rate in Russia grew by over 10% year-on-year this January. “Some 158,900 babies were born in January 2013 or 15,100 (10.5%) more babies than the year before. That was the highest January birth rate since the launch of the demographic program. Birth rates tend to be lower in the first month of the […]

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Siluanov Predicts Start of Major Privatizations in H2

Anton Siluanov file photo

GORKI. March 12 (Interfax) – Russia’s first major privatizations will begin in the second half of this year, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. “We have not considered the timing, but I think that in any event the start will be in the second half,” Siluanov responded when asked when the first major privatizations would begin during a meeting conducted […]

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Kremlin Embarks on Personnel Intervention at Central Bank

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

MOSCOW. March 13 (Interfax) – One of the most suspenseful appointment decisions of the past year has come to an unexpected expected conclusion. On one hand, Kremlin adviser Elvira Nabiullina only recently emerged as a potential candidate to replace Sergei Ignatyev as chairman of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). On the other, after President Vladimir Putin said that he […]

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Titov Seeks Changes to Pretrial Detention Rules

Boris Titov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – March 13, 2013) The case of an entrepreneur who spent five years behind bars before even being sentenced will be used by the business ombudsman to reduce the maximum time that suspected criminals can remain in pretrial detention. Business ombudsman Boris Titov has joined forces with human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to […]

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Gazprom Belies State-Run Tag as Russia Can’t Get Answers

Russian Gas Facility file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Scott Rose – March 11, 2013) OAO Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas export monopoly, is thwarting efforts to boost oversight of its $28.9 billion in capital spending as the state seeks to improve investment, Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov said. “Despite the fact that it’s a state company, even we, to put it mildly, can’t always see […]

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Experts Shed Light on Russia’s Capital Flight

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ben Aris, special to RBTH – March 11, 2013) Some $350 billion has fled Russia since the 2008 global crisis. But things aren’t as bad as they seem. Genuine capital flight is only half the official figure, according to a new study by Ernst & Young, together with the Russian Direct Investment Fund […]

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Fund chief finds mixed messages on Russia’s pensions

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Nathan Gray – March 11, 2013) It would be hard to find expats in Moscow who deny that life has become more comfortable here since 2000 – more expensive, but more comfortable. Yet some people, such as Alexander Lorenz, do look back with nostalgia, The chairman of the Raiffeisen Pension Fund, he arrived in Moscow […]

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Ukraine: Straddling between the EU and the Customs Union

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Natalia Bespalova, Special to RBTH – March 12, 2013) Ukrainians would not want to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan at the expense of Euro-integration, but the Ukrainian president says his country “is not tough or rich enough to neglect such cooperation” Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his […]

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Chagrin and Ambivalence in Putin’s Foreign Policy

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 45 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Pavel K. Baev – March 11, 2013) Entering the second year of his third presidency, President Vladimir Putin has shown uncharacteristically scant interest to foreign policy matters perhaps suspecting that Western “partners” are sponsoring Russia’s opposition movement and that neighboring post-Soviet leaders and even Chinese “friends” are […]

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A champion for businessmen’ rights uses influence against raiders

Boris Titov file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Tim Wall, RBTH – March 11, 2013) Russian Presidential Commissioner for entrepreneurs’ rights Boris Titov gives an insight he is helping businessmen successfully deal with pressure from officials through the courts. Boris Titov, Russia’s foremost producer of sparkling wines, knows all too well what it’s like to face pressure from officials. But now, […]

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300,000 Self-Employed Russians Quit Over Tax Hikes

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) ­ – Almost 300,000 self-employed Russians have quit business in Russia in the past three months due to social tax hikes, an Economics Ministry official said on Monday. From January 1, 2013, the Russian government doubled the annual fixed-sum social security tax for individual entrepreneurs to 36,000 rubles ($1,200), in a move that directly affected […]

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NEWSLINK: Sergei Magnitsky: The enemy within: A saga that has been a parable of the self-mutilating way Russia is governed

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

[Sergei Magnitsky:  The enemy within: A saga that has been a parable of the self-mutilating way Russia is governed – The Economist – Editorial – March 9, 2013 – http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21573119-saga-has-been-parable-self-mutilating-way-russia-governed-enemy-within] The Economist issues an editorial on the Magnitsky saga and its aftermath, and what it shows about brutal, deadly elitism in Russia: Martyred human rights activists; fatally brave journalists: Russia, […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia & Georgia: Wine-Tasting

Tblisi, Georgia, File Photo with Building with Tower on Hillside and City Buildings in Valley in Distance

[Russia & Georgia: wine tasting – Financial Times – Isabel Gorst – March 7, 2013 – http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/03/06/russia-georgia-wine-tasting/] The Financial Times covers preparations to lift Russia’s ban on Georgian wine and mineral water imports, as the two countries look towards trade as an initial foundation for improved relations: Sanitary inspectors in Russia look set to lift a ban on Georgian wine […]

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Children of Russian Officials and Businessmen Hold Top Posts

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

(RIA Novosti – February 26, 2013) Aleksandr Lebedev, the co-owner of Aeroflot has nominated three people for the company’ board of directors, including his own son Yegor. According to open sources, Yegor was born in November 2011. Petr Fradkov (born in 1978), the eldest son of Mikhail Fradkov the director of the Russian Federation Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), heads the […]

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Russian president explains falling output with market conditions

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Vologda, 7 March, 2013) Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that the nomination of the new head of the central bank will be a surprise for everyone. “It will be unexpected and you will like it,” Putin said when answering questions from journalists in Vologda. When answering a question about the reasons for the fall in output in […]

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Putin Pipeline to Send 25% of Russia’s Oil Exports East

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky – March 7, 2013) Russia is on course to send an unprecedented 25 percent of its crude exports to eastern markets by 2015 as rising demand from China and other Asian consumers attracts sales at the expense of Europe. The country sent 1.1 million barrels a day east in February, or 22 percent of […]

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Putin Allies Climb Up Forbes List

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – March 4, 2013) The personal fortunes of businessmen rumored to enjoy close relationships with President Vladimir Putin jumped sharply in a new Forbes ranking Monday as Facebook investor Alisher Usmanov retained the title of Russia’s richest man. The wealth of Gennady Timchenko, owner of oil trader Gunvor and a large stakeholder in […]

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Russia Will React If U.S.-EU Trade Deal Harms, Fund Says

EU Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Joseph de Weck – February 7, 2013) Russia may pivot to Asia should the proposed U.S.-European Union free-trade agreement hurt its businesses, said Kirill Dmitriev, the Chief Executive Officer of the $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund. “Any attempt to use the liberal language of free trade to create something that excludes other countries and puts […]

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Female Leaders Manage Mentalities

Empty Boardroom

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – March 7, 2013) Yelena Andreyeva wears two hats. Most of the time, she is the head of Bastion, one of the country’s leading private security agencies, which she founded in 1992. But a few days a week, Andreyeva, a textile engineer by training, teaches students at the Moscow University of Design and […]

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From ‘Upper Volta with Missiles’ to ‘Nigeria with Snow’

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 28, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/02/window-on-eurasia-from-upper-volta-with.html) Twenty-five years ago, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt characterized the Soviet Union as being an “Upper Volta with missiles.” Now, Russian analysts, in response to findings of a Swiss firm, have suggested that a better analogy might be between the Russian Federation and a “Nigeria with snow.” The […]

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Russia Eyes Efficient Management of State-Controlled Assets

Empty Boardroom

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 39 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Sergei Blagov – March 1, 2013) The Russian government pledged to manage $3.3 trillion worth of its state-controlled assets more efficiently, including through the continued privatization of state-owned companies. However, the authorities have to prove that the latest privatization efforts could fare better than earlier attempts to […]

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TRANSCRIPT: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with the Brazilian TV network Globo

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Governent.ru – February 26, 2013) Correspondent (via interpreter): Mr Prime Minister, thank you very much for finding time for Globo in your schedule. In your recent article in the influential Financial Times, you wrote that Russia should look to the East, to the Asia-Pacific Region. How, looking East, did you wind up in Brazil?  Did you follow Columbus who set […]

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China’s quiet splash in the post-Soviet space

File Photo fo Chinese Military Parade

(opendemocracy.net – Michael Cecire – February 25, 2013) Michael Hikari Cecire is a Black Sea-Eurasia regional analyst and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, where he contributes to the Project on Democratic Transitions. China’s steadily growing economic expansion throughout the world is a cause of concern for many governments. Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia are no longer […]

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Putin’s War on Three Fronts

Duma Session file photo

(Institute of Modern Russia – www.imrussia.org – Tatiana Stanovaya – February 25, 2013 – click here for original posting of article) Two important tendencies have marked Russian political life during the past few months. The first is the Kremlin’s attempt to control officials’ and lawmakers’ foreign accounts and real estate holdings. The second is the growing activity of independent bloggers […]

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‘Cloud Atlas,’ Russian style; How a bizarre adoption drama can be traced back to Magnitsky’s death

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Leaning Towards Barack Hussein Obama With Flags Behind Them

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anna Arutunyan – February 25, 2013) Anna Arutunyan is the politics editor of The Moscow News A story needs a beginning and end, but what has become the main narrative of Russia’s current political era doesn’t seem to have either. And the weak are meat the strong do eat, as David Mitchell coined in his […]

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Blind Lawmaker Praises New Law Requiring Firms to Hire the Disabled

File Photo of Back of Wheelchari with Line of Persons in Business Dress in Background

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – February 26, 2013) Oleg Smolin, a State Duma deputy with the Communist Party, praised a law that entered into force Monday and requires companies to hire disabled people or face fines of up to 10,000 rubles ($330). “We supported this legislation because it looks like a first step forward,” Smolin, who is […]

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US Fast Food Chains Banking on Russian Bellies

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

WASHINGTON, February 25 (By Sasha Horne for RIA Novosti) ­ The Kremlin has moved aggressively in recent months to stifle US influence on its domestic politics, but America’s fast-food footprint continues to grow across Russia’s nine time zones. Iconic US eatery McDonald’s has announced it could widen its presence from Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad to eastern Siberia in a […]

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Finance reform is key for Russia’s G20 presidency

G20 Logo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Alexander Yakovenko, special to RBTH – February 26, 2013) Alexander Yakovenko is Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom. He was previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The first meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors under Russia’s G20 presidency was held in Moscow […]

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10% of Russian Companies Dodged Taxes in 2012 – Central Bank

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) ­ Every tenth Russian company making settlements through the Central Bank’s payment system dodged tax payments in 2012, according to data posted on the regulator’s website on Tuesday. Central Bank figures show 242,000 companies or about 11 percent of the 2.2 million businesses surveyed by the regulator made zero tax payments last year, despite conducting […]

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BRICS prepare for their summit in Africa

Africa Satellite Image Map

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Yuri Paniyev, special to RBTH – February 23, 2013) BRICS leaders plan to discuss the creation of a new development bank and a “virtual secretariat” at the upcoming summit in South Africa. At the fifth BRICS summit — ­ the first to be held on the African continent ­ — the leaders of […]

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West Vastly Underestimating Size of Illegal Capital Flight from Russia, Moscow Expert Says

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

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 22, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/02/window-on-eurasia-west-vastly.html) A report by the Washington Center for International Policy’s Global Financial Integrity program suggests that illegal capital flight from the Russian Federation over the last 17 years has been “stupifyingly” large, but in fact, a Russian economic analyst says, the report’s figures understate the size and implications […]

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Russian Unemployment Hit Record Low Last Year, Revised Data Show

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Scott Rose & Olga Tanas – February 26, 2012) Russian unemployment fell to a record low of 5 percent in August and September last year, less than the initially reported 5.2 percent, revised data released by the Federal Statistics Service show. Last month’s reading of 6 percent was unchanged, the Moscow-based service said in a report […]

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Russian economy still has challenges to face, Medvedev says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Interfax – February 25, 2013) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that in order to develop the Russian economy it is necessary to increase the share of revenues from high-tech sectors and raise the standard of living in the country. Developing high-tech sectors “There are a number of challenges in the Russian economy to which we have not yet responded. First […]

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Presumed Putin Allies Get Most Construction Contracts

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow TImes – themoscowtimes.com – February 25, 2013) Two companies co-owned by people seen as close to President Vladimir Putin were awarded the largest number of major road and bridge construction contracts by City Hall in 2011-12, Vedomosti reported Tuesday. In the period, a total of 150 road and bridge construction contracts worth 182.4 billion rubles ($6 billion) were awarded, […]

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Civil servants may have problems selling their foreign assets – Kremlin representative

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Feb 22 (Interfax) – President Vladimir Putin’s representative in the State Duma Garri Minkh has acknowledged that government executives may have problems selling their assets and foreign company shares in compliance with the president-proposed bill. “The procedure of selling shares is not so easy. Not so easy as selling a glass of sunflower seeds,” Minkh said during the first […]

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Russia Faces Same Macro-Economic Problems USSR Did 40 Years Ago, Moscow Economist Says

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 21, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/02/window-on-eurasia-russia-faces-same.html) The Russian economy today despite some very positive numbers over the last year suffers from four macro-economic problems that not only will be difficult to correct but also resemble those the Soviet leadership faced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the rector of the Presidential Academy […]

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Police interference often disastrous for businesses – Russian Prosecutor General

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Feb 21 (Interfax) – Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said he was concerned with groundless interference of police in commercial disputes. “The practice of opening groundless criminal cases, arresting enterprises’ accounts and assets hasn’t been eradicated,” Chaika said during his speech at the all-Russian prosecutors’ conference on protecting rights of businessmen. Chaika said that “the number of operational procedures […]

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McDonald’s could open 150 restaurants in Russia in three years

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

MOSCOW. Feb 21 (Interfax) – McDonald’s plans to open at least 150 restaurants in Russia in the next three years, the company’s president for Russia and Eastern Europe, Khamat Khasbulatov, told a press conference. The company opened 46 restaurants in 2011 and 37 in 2010. It opened its first diners in the Lipetsk region and cities of Saransk, Izhevsk and […]

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G20 tests Russia’s influence

G20 Logo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – www.rbth.ru – Alexey Dolinskiy, special to RBTH – February 21, 2013) In 2013, Russia will host the G-20 summit for the first time ever. Russia’s official presidency started in December 2012, but high-level meetings, culminating in the September 2013 St. Petersburg summit, are just beginning. Leading a global institution of the world’s most powerful countries […]

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IMF More Upbeat Than Medvedev on GDP Growth

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – February 21, 2013) The International Monetary Fund took an optimistic stance at Russia’s prospects Wednesday, saying that its economy could demonstrate a faster pace of growth over the next few years than the annual goal of 5 percent set by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. To attain those growth rates, the government should […]

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