Electricity sector between a rock and a hard place: Year in Review

Electrical Yard file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 9 (Interfax) – Russia’s electricity sector in 2012 became a kind of blanket that was pulled in opposite directions by two opposing forces, which were personified by the government’s former and current tsars of the sector, Igor Sechin and Arkady Dvorkovich. They pulled on two, very large, corners – RusHydro and the combination of Federal Grid Company (FGC) […]

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Russian Consumer-Led Expansion to Slow in 2013, BNP Says

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Scott Rose – January 9, 2013) Russian consumer spending will continue to carry economic growth this year even as slower increases in incomes and borrowing damp household demand, according to BNP Paribas SA. “We see private consumption remaining the primary driver of GDP growth in 2013 and beyond,” Julia Tsepliaeva and Kirill Mavrin, economists at BNP […]

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Housing Problems Bother Russians Most – Poll

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Most Russians consider the critical situation in the housing and utilities sector, inflation and low living standards and corruption as the most pressing problems in the country, a new poll revealed on Wednesday. The majority of respondents, 58 percent, said housing and utilities problems were their main concerns, according to the VTsIOM state pollster. […]

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2012 in Review: Russia Turns in on Itself

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Voice of America – Russian Service Crossfire – Donald N. Jensen – January 3, 2013) Russian state has struggled unsuccessfully since 1991 to reconcile ­three disparate, somewhat contradictory sources of legitimacy.  It portrays itself as democratic, but the trashing of the 1990s by the Putin regime deprives the current system of a founding myth.  During the Putin era there have […]

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Experts predict slowdown, stagnation for Russian economy in 2013

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Moscow, 29 December) According to economic experts interviewed by Interfax news agency, the lack of new economic ideas and structural reforms will impede Russia’s economic growth in 2013. The following is excerpt from report by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax. Subheadings as published. The ending year has shown that the old drivers of growth are no longer working, […]

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Stability attracts investors, artists – Gref on Russian passport of Depardieu

Gérard Depardieu file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 4 (Interfax) – Political, economic and financial stability attracts investors and artists, Sberbank CEO German Gref told Interfax on Friday, speaking of Russian citizenship conferred to French actor Gerard Depardieu. “The Depardieu situation shows that financial, economic and political stability is frequently a key factor in the choice of the country by investors and artists. I think people […]

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Gerard Depardieu Glad To Get Russian Citizenship – TV

Gérard Depardieu file photo

MOSCOW, January 4 (RIA Novosti) – Legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu said he is glad to be granted Russian citizenship, adding that he loves Russia and promising to study the Russian language. “Yes, I have applied for a passport and I am glad my request has been granted,” Depardieu said in a letter to Russian journalists posted on the website […]

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Lithuanian Speaker Gedvilas Rebuts Clinton on Russia, Radio Says

File Photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton with Nazarbayev

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Bryan Bradley – January 4, 2013) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s opposition to Russia’s growing economic might in Europe wasn’t practical, Vydas Gedvilas, the head of Lithuania’s new parliament, said in an interview with Russian radio. The international influence of Russian businesses is an economic reality that European countries must separate from politics and deal […]

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Russian diplomat sees possible ‘political risks’ in OECD entry talks

OECD Logo

(Interfax – January 2, 2013) Moscow does not rule out negotiations on Russia’s entry to the OECD may be accompanied by “political risks” linked to the case of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergey Magnitskiy’s death, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s economic cooperation department Aleksandr Gorban said, as reported by Interfax on 2 January. “These concerns are fair. There are […]

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NEWSLINK: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Putin; Was 2012 the year Russia’s president finally lost it? – Anders Åslund

Vladimir Putin file photo

[Foreign Policy – Anders Åslund – December 28, 2012 – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/28/Putin_orphans_Russia_crackdown] Anders Åslund examines the state of Russian politics, characterizing it as marked by repression, anger and a realization of a need for change but lacking a grasp of effective alternatives other than personal flight: … I have not found the mood in the Russian capital so depressed since the […]

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NEWSLINK: Russia rings in new year with ban on kiosk beer sales

New Year's Eve in Red Square with Crowd and Fireworks

(Russia rings in new year with ban on kiosk beer sales – AP – Jim Heintz – January 1, 2013 – Click here for full article) AP covers Russia’s abolition of sidewalk beer vending, as well as a Russian move to reclassify beer as alcohol rather than food: A big question in Russia in this year may be: “How do […]

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20 Georgian wine and mineral water producers preparing to resume exports to Russia

Georgia Map

TBILISI. Jan 1 (Interfax) – Twenty Georgian companies producing wine and mineral water are preparing to resume the deliveries of their output to the Russian market, head of the Center for Georgian-Russian Economic Cooperation Giorgy Seturidze told the press summing up the results of a Monday meeting with representatives of these companies. He said all technical questions related to the […]

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Greediness prevents Russian businesses from gaining foothold on foreign markets – diplomat

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

MOSCOW. Jan 1 (Interfax) – Greediness often prevents Russian businesses from gaining a foothold on foreign markets, says Alexander Gorban, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s economic cooperation department. “I would like to mention one significant difference between Russian and Western businesses: it is their desire to have a high profit margin,” Gorban said in an interview with Interfax. […]

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Cold war – state and private companies lock horns over Arctic shelf

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) – The standoff between state and private oil companies over access to Russia’s continental shelf over the past year recalled the cold war of the early 1980s. It was also a combination of clashing ideologies and ambitions, coalitions of allies, war on the periphery, scare tactics, a search for compromises and absurdity. As in the cold […]

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Russians Anticipate Higher Wages, Higher Prices in 2013

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russians can expect to see their real wages rise in 2013, but along with that will come higher utilities tariffs, according to Economic Development Ministry forecasts. Take-home pay is set to rise 3.7 percent in 2013, the ministry forecasts, and the minimum wage is also expected to rise, although it will still lag significantly […]

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Magnitsky Play at Teatr.doc Hits Harder Than Ever

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – December 28, 2012) Some things remain relevant longer than you would expect. Take the death of Sergei Magnitsky. This muck-raking attorney was allowed to die in a Moscow prison in November 2009. That story was still making news when Teatr.doc opened a show called “One Hour Eighteen” in the early summer of […]

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Poor State of Housing Services Could Be Next Rallying Point

File Photo of Water Facet with Drop of Water Coming Out

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – December 27, 2012) Calls for honest elections and President Vladimir Putin’s removal might attract the urban middle class to rallies, but it is rusty pipes and the poor state of the utilities sector that might persuade thousands of disgruntled citizens of all classes to march in the streets. The possibility that higher […]

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Putin: Capital Outflow Is Russian Business Expansion Abroad

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) ­ Officially registered capital outflow from Russia frequently reflects Russian business investment abroad, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. “As for capital outflow, this process is not viewed as simplistically as is frequently talked about. Capital outflow in our conditions does not mean direct capital flight,” he said. A substantial part of this capital is […]

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Governors should be responsible for quality of business climate in regions – Putin

Map of Russia

MOSCOW. Dec 27 (Interfax) – The heads of Russian regions ought to bear a political responsibility for their territories, President Vladimir Putin said. “Governors in the regions should bear a political responsibility for the quality of the business climate there. It is a test of his [governor’s] management skills,” Putin said at a State Council session on Thursday. “As for […]

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Putin Urges Regional Investment Roadmaps to Boost Economy

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian regions should prepare regional investment roadmaps with clear-cut goals to attract investors and boost the county’s flagging economy, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. Putin made the statement at a meeting with Russian governors to discuss how to make the regions more appealing as investment destinations. Russia’s regions should demonstrate their potential to […]

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Russian-Language Textbooks Stir Controversy

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Patrick Reevell – December 26, 2012) A policeman says in Russian: “I work a lot, sometimes even too much. … Winter or summer, rain or shine, I go from a bank to a store, from a store to a restaurant, from a restaurant to a market, looking for where to take money.” What’s wrong with […]

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Medvedev Tackles Stimulus as Economy Slows

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) ­ Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will chair a meeting on Wednesday on how best to tackle Russia’s slowing economic growth. “This year, Russia has seen falling growth in the major macroeconomic indices ­ gross domestic product, industrial output, and fixed capital investment,” the government press office said in a statement. Russia’s Economics Ministry has cut […]

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Russians have more confidence in authorities’ ability to make their life better – poll

Duma Session file photo

(Interfax – December 20, 2012) The approval ratings of Russian leaders grew in December after a minor decline in November, Levada Center told Interfax on Thursday. It held a nation-wide poll on Dec. 14-17. The approval rating of President Vladimir Putin stood at 65 percent in December, as against 63 percent in November and 68 percent in September, the sociologists […]

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Russian government to monitor business climate quarterly

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW. Dec 20 (Interfax) – The Russian government will monitor the implementation of roadmaps to improve the country’s business climate every quarter, Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov said Thursday at a government session. Five roadmaps were approved and for three of them, including on customs administration, on connection to energy infrastructure and on administration in the construction sector, the deadlines […]

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Peskov blames Clinton for lack of understanding of processes in FSU

File Photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton with Nazarbayev

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) – Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov thinks that the phrase of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about re-Sovietizing CIS countries is an indication of her incompetence about the processes taking place in the region. “To associate the natural processes that are maturing throughout the former Soviet Union with Sovietization is not to understand practically […]

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OUTLOOK 2013: Confused picture for Russia (Part 1)

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – December 22, 2012 – click here to see original article with charts) Overview The world and Russia both passed through the trough of the global crisis in 2012, say investment banks in Moscow, and the question for 2013 is: if the upswing starts, how fast will it go? Going into […]

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Russia, EU discussing liberalization of economic ties, impact of Customs Union

EU Map

(Interfax – December 19, 2012) The differences between Russia and the European Union in negotiations on a new basic agreement are not insurmountable, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told Russian reporters in Brussels. “The EU, and it is not hiding this, would like to go further in relations with Russia than the package of conditions on which Russia […]

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State support for Russian agriculture to double despite WTO rules – minister

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

(Interfax – Moscow, 18 December) State support for agriculture will double as part of the new state programme covering the 2013-2020 period. “Whereas under the existing state programme (for 2008-2012 – Interfax) we have been giving agriculture R100bn (3.25bn dollars at the current rate of exchange) a year on average, in the period until 2020 the mean figure of federal […]

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Utilities to go up as industry on brink of catastrophe

File Photo of Water Facet with Drop of Water Coming Out

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Evgeniya Chaykovskaya – December 19, 2012) Russia’s Federal Tariff Services asked the government to raise tariffs for heating (by 11.5 percent instead of 9.5 percent proposed by the Economic Development Ministry) and water supply (11-13 percent instead of 5-6 percent). If their wish is granted, households will face a 15 percent increase in utility payments, […]

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Central Banker Blames Capital Flight on Investment Climate

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia’s unfavorable investment climate is a major factor behind huge capital flight from the country in recent years, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said on Wednesday. The Central Bank has carried out a comparative research of capital outflows in other countries to understand why capital is leaving Russia on such a large scale, the […]

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Kudrin Lashes Out at Medvedev’s Cabinet

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – December 19, 2012) Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Tuesday castigated Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet as inefficient, but he rejected speculation that he would come back to the government in the near future. Despite praising Medvedev’s personal contribution to the 18-year process of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization during […]

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It’s time for Africa: In a new scramble for the continent, Russia doesn’t have to be an outsider

Africa Satellite Image

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Tai Adelaja – Dec. 17, 2012) Suddenly, a new scramble for Africa is gaining momentum. The saving grace this time around is that the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and since 2011, South Africa) are leading the charge. The Chinese have long dug in their heels, spending billions of dollars to boost economies and […]

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More precision in taxation: Entrepreneurs report higher satisfaction with the tax service, but question the government’s commitment to supporting business

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Anastasia Matveyeva, Moskovskiye Novosti – Dec. 17, 2012) Market participants are recognizing that the Federal Tax Service has started to work more efficiently, according to statistics presented at a tax summit at RIA Novosti’s press center. “In 2000, 1,350,000 tax inspections of corporate entities were carried out, and the average level of additional charges was […]

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Capital Flight Calculation Open for Debate

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – Dec. 18, 2012) The real size of capital outflow last year was actually half as much as reported, and only reached about $40 billion, with the figure having no correlation to the investment climate, according to a survey released Monday. Some components considered by the Central Bank, such as cash leaving the […]

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Anti-western rhetoric stopped international financial center in Russia – Kudrin

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 18 (Interfax) – Anti-western rhetoric has stopped the establishment of an International Financial Center (IFC) in Russia, former finance minister and now chairman of the Civil Initiatives Committee, Alexei Kudrin, said. Instead of dialogue between the authorities and the public, legislation is being passed that is hitting protestors. One myth is the assertion that almost all civil activity […]

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Kudrin Slams Russia for ‘Creeping De-Privatization’

Empty Boardroom

MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) ­ Former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin on Tuesday slammed the authorities for allowing “creeping de-privatization” of the economy despite the government’s commitment to sell state-run companies in order to raise their efficiency and lure much-needed foreign investment. “Despite the declared goals of privatization, we are witnessing creeping de-privatization,” Kudrin said at a press conference […]

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Moscow’s Cabbies, Prices, Locals ‘World’s Worst’ ­ Poll

Moscow Traffic file photo

OSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) ­ Moscow ranked last in four categories in a new list of the top 40 global tourist destinations, its score ruined by vicious cabbies, antisocial locals and ungodly prices. The Russian capital scored last on “friendliest locals,” “friendliest taxi drivers,” “best taxi services,” and “best for shopping” in the new World City survey by the […]

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No new legal acts needed on privatization procedure – Shuvalov

Igor Shuvalov file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) – All of the procedures for privatizing federal property are enshrined at the presidential and governmental level; the legislative framework is adequate to what should happen with privatization in the coming years, and it does not need to be enhanced, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said. “All procedures are now fixed in federal law, […]

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Russia Faces Economy Trap as Oil Decline Looms, EBRD Says

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Henry Meyer and Agnes Lovasz – Dec. 14, 2012) Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, is becoming increasingly dependent on commodities and failing to prepare for falling oil output in 20 years, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development said. Corruption, poor education, immigration barriers and state dominance in the economy, which curbs private innovation, all […]

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NEWSLINK: Russian politics: A new ideology for political ends: Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking with Flag Behind Him and Microphones in Front

[Russian politics: A new ideology for political ends: Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address – The Economist – Dec. 15, 2012 – http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21568431-vladimir-putins-state-nation-address-new-ideology-political-ends] The Economist reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State-of-the-Nation Address, noting what it saw as a values-oriented focus: For a man known for his pragmatism ­ even cynicism ­ President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech on December 12th was heavily […]

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NEWSLINK: Details of U.S. bill on Russia trade, human rights

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

[Factbox: Details of U.S. bill on Russia trade, human rights – Reuters – Dec. 13, 2012 – http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/13/uk-usa-russia-trade-idUKBRE8BC18120121213] Reuters sets out bullet points recent U.S. legislation consider trade and Russian human rights, developed in response to Russia’s August 22, 2012, accession to the WTO. Regarding trade, the legislation repeals the Jackson-Vanik amendment and looks to ensure investment-related rule of law, […]

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NEWSLINK: U.S.-Russia ties take a hit: As the Jackson-Vanik amendment is finally repealed, the controversial Magnitsky act provokes similar legislation from Russia and may hamper U.S.-Russia relations.

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

[U.S.-Russia ties take a hit: As the Jackson-Vanik amendment is finally repealed, the controversial Magnitsky act provokes similar legislation from Russia and may hamper U.S.-Russia relations. – Russia Beyond the Headlines – Alexander Gasyuk – Alexander Gasyuk is Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s Washington D.C. Bureau chief  – Dec. 14, 2012 – http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/12/14/once_again_us-russia_ties_take_a_hit_21107.html] Russia Behind the Headlnies covers U.S. Congressional passage of the […]

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Russians favor immigration restrictions – poll

Migrant Workers file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 14 (Interfax) – The majority of Russians want the government to restrict labor immigration. The number of people favoring labor immigration restrictions has grown from 57% to a six-year high of 64% over the past 12 months, according to a November poll held by the Levada Analytical Center. The number of those who have not yet formed an […]

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Putin Targets Transparency of Offshore Companies

Empty Boardroom

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Filatova – Dec. 13, 2012) President Vladimir Putin expanded Russian vocabulary Wednesday, as he called for “deoffshorization” of the country’s economy, a measure he said would help repatriate capital channeled to offshore jurisdictions. In his state-of-the-nation address, which covered a wide range of economic issues, Putin pushed for agreements with tax havens that would […]

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Putin calls for revival of provincial intelligentsia as moral pillar of Russia

Map of Russia

MOSCOW. Dec 12 (Interfax) – Provincial intelligentsia should be revived as a moral pillar of the country, President Vladimir Putin said in the state-of-the-nation address he presented at the parliament on Wednesday. “I would like to speak particularly about the social sphere. Specialists working in this field are formally indentified as ‘public sector employees’. These people have a good education […]

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Putin Vetoes Proposed Breaks for Medvedev Innovation Hub

Skolkovo File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Scott Rose & Ilya Arkhipov – Dec. 12, 2012) Russian President Vladimir Putin vetoed legislation passed by parliament on changes to the Skolkovo innovation hub, a project championed by Premier Dmitry Medvedev, threatening to widen a rift between the two men. The bill, which proposed delaying mandatory residency requirements for Skolkovo, needs additional work to determine […]

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Putin Calls for ‘Adequate’ Response to Magnitsky Act

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted a US bill targeting alleged Russian human rights violators as an “unfriendly act,” but said Russia’s response should be “adequate and not excessive.” “We certainly have to have an appropriate response. The State Duma has taken the initiative, which in my opinion is absolutely correct. But we need to […]

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Russia’s Putin Expects Major Shift In Global Politics Within Next Decade

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(RIA Novosti – Dec. 10, 2012) Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks that Russia must find its place in the geopolitical transformation (of the world), but not on conditions of confrontation. “In this geopolitical transformation, we must find our place. Can we do it? Of course we can, with our vast territory, with our traditions, with our growing economy. But, without […]

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Deutsche Bank forecasts 4.2% economic growth in Russia in 2013

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Dec 11 (Interfax) – Russian economic growth will pick up in 2013 and reach 4.2%, while inflation will go down to around 6%, Yaroslav Lisovolik, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Russia, says. Lisovolik told the press on Tuesday that one of the main reasons for such a relatively high rate of GDP growth in 2013 would be high […]

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Duma Deputies Strike Back Over Magnitsky Act

Russian Duma Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Earle – Dec. 11, 2012) In a widely expected response to the passage of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, State Duma deputies on Monday introduced a bill that would make Americans suspected of mistreating Russians personae non gratae. The bill bans Americans from traveling or investing in Russia if they are deemed to have “illegally” […]

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