JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Own Government Warns His Campaign Promises Can’t Be Met” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Ilya Arkhipov

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“… Putin’s own government doesn’t believe his ambitious campaign pledges to improve living standards are attainable. Officials have analyzed the $400 billion [National Projects] spending program … and found that the majority of targets will be impossible to achieve before … Putin’s term [ends] in 2024 …. Putin and … Medvedev have been briefed about the findings …. confirm[ing] conclusions […]

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Russia’s National Projects: Economic Reboot or Mucky Bog?

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Ben Aris – May 30, 2019) Ben Aris is editor in chief of bne Intellinews. He has been covering Russia as a journalist since 1993. While Moscow has been aggressively advancing its interests on the international stage, Russia’s stagnating economy means the country risks gradually falling behind the rest of the world and possibly facing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s GDP growth slows in 1Q19, challenging the policy framework” – bne Intellinews/ Dmitri Dolgin (Russia ING)

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russian GDP growth slowed from 2.7% year on year in 4Q18 to just 0.5% y/y in 1Q19, well below expectations. Unlike most commentators, we attribute this slowdown to a pause in the state CAPEX rather than to the VAT hike. We also believe a policy response is more likely to come from the Finance Ministry rather than the Central Bank […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Effective Military Spending Is Around $200 Billion” – Checkpoint Asia/Richard Connolly

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“Russia maintains armed forces of around a million … compared with … fewer than 200,000 in the UK. … [and] procures and maintains far larger volumes of equipment across the whole spectrum … including [ICBM’s], nuclear-powered submarines … state-of-the-art helicopters and fighter aircraft. * * * … PPP-based measures … yield a figure of closer to $200 billion …”

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Life Expectancy in Russia Inches Upward to 73 – Health Ministry Official

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 21, 2019) Average life expectancy in Russia has reached 73 years, a top health official said on Thursday. Russia plans to spend 1.7 trillion rubles ($26.68 billion) on dramatically improving health care to accomplish President Vladimir Putin’s goal of raising life expectancy to 78 years by the time his term ends in 2024. Average […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Social benefits proposed by president to cost 80 bln rubles in 2019 – Golikova” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. Feb 21 (Interfax) – The social benefits proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his Address to the Federal Assembly for realization this year will cost 80 billion rubles, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on the show “Time Will Tell” on Channel 1 on Wednesday. “According to our preliminary estimates, the things that fall to 2019 – in […]

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Russian Educational System Threatened by Privatization, Underfunding

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 15, 2018) The explosive growth of private for-profit higher educational institutions and mounting anger in the regions about the costs of public schools at the primary and secondary level are threatening the quality of the Russian educational system, a system on which the future of that country heavily depends. If the […]

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Russian Retirement-Age Hike Advances As Putin’s Adjustment Approved

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

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – September 26, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/duma-approves-putin-s-revised-proposal-to-raise-retirement-age-for-women/29510648.html) An unpopular plan to raise the retirement age has advanced in the Russian legislature after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to limit the increase for women to five years — to age 60 — instead of eight. Deputies […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pension bill passes 2nd reading in State Duma, 3rd reading due on Thursday” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 26 (Interfax) – Russia’s State Duma has passed the second and main reading of the bill on pension reform, which envisages a gradual increase of the retirement age. The deputies unanimously (385 votes) supported all amendments to the bill initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A total of 326 deputies voted for the bill at the second reading, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Zyuganov calls for gathering political elites in Kremlin, scrapping pension reform” – Interfax

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) – Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has declared the necessity of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the political elites to discuss the domestic situation, including the possibility of scrapping the pension reform. “Once again, I insist that he [the president] gather influential people in the Kremlin so that we could discuss the unfolding […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Oil Production Jumps to a New Post-Soviet Record” – Bloomberg/Elena Mazneva

Oil Well file photo

“Russia’s crude production has jumped to a new post-Soviet record, boosting … budget revenue as it prepares for talks with OPEC+ on further cooperation, according to a [Russian] government official. … currently fluctuating between 1.54 million and 1.55 million tons a day — driven mainly … Rosneft … 11.29 million to 11.36 million barrels a day, beating the previous record […]

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RUSSIALINK: “A Just Russia offers Communists to pool efforts for pension referendum – Mironov” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

ROSTOV-ON-DON. Sept 3 (Interfax) – The parliament factions of the Russian Communist Party and A Just Russia should pool efforts to make the pension referendum happen, A Just Russia’s faction leader Sergei Mironov said at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don. “I have offered our Communist Party colleagues in the State Duma to combine efforts [towards holding the referendum]. Clearly, everything […]

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Ladies’ Man: Putin Cites ‘Caring Attitude’ In Pension-Reform Concession

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(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – Aug. 29, 2018 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/ladies-man-putin-cites-caring-attitude-in-pension-reform-concession/29460024.html) Russian President Vladimir Putin reserved the weightiest of his cautious concessions on a controversial pension-reform plan for Russian women, who outnumber their male counterparts by 10 million and live — and vote — considerably longer. Citing what he called […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Dials Back Pension Plan After Backlash” – Wall Street Journal/Ann M. Simmons

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… Putin softened a plan to raise pension ages to bolster state finances, a rare backtrack following a public outcry that cut his approval ratings to the lowest level in more than four years. … Putin proposed that the pension age for women be increased from 55 to 60 instead of the 63 years proposed by parliament. He didn’t propose […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “The [Russian] President’s address to Russian citizens [re pension reform]” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Kremlin.ru – August 29, 2018 – en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/58405) President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, friends, On June 16, 2018, the Government submitted to the State Duma a draft law on reforming the pension system, and on June 19, the draft passed its first reading in Parliament. The law’s main purpose is to ensure that the pension system remains sustainable […]

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Not So United: Russia’s Ruling Party Rattled By Pension-Reform Crisis

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Yelizaveta Mayetnaya, Robert Coalson – August 5, 2018 [Text with links and graphics: rferl.org/a/not-so-united-russia-ruling-party-rattled-by-pension-reform-crisis/29413547.html] Speaking to a riled-up crowd at a July 28 protest against the Russian government’s deeply unpopular proposal to raise retirement ages in Vologda, angry pensioner Nikolai Zharavin didn’t mince words as to who was to […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin] Conversation with 2018 FIFA World Cup volunteers. [Excerpt re: Pension Reform]; During his visit to the Kaliningrad Stadium, Vladimir Putin met with 2018 FIFA World Cup volunteers” – KremlinRu

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(Kremlin.ru – July 20, 2018) * * * Question: Mr President, can I ask you a question not related to sports? Yesterday the State Duma adopted amendments to pension legislation in the first reading. Of course, you monitor the Government’s proposals. It is very important for us to know your opinion on this issue. Remark: Galina, I do not think […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Civil Solidarity’s request to authorize rally against pension age increase in Sokolniki on Wednesday approved” – Interfax

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

MOSCOW. July 18 (Interfax) – The administration of the park Sokolniki has approved a request made by the movement Civil Solidarity to authorize a public event on the territory intended for a ‘hyde park’ on July 18. The topic of the event is “Rally against Pension Age Increase,” the culture establishment said on its official portal. The rally will have […]

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Governors Back Moscow’s Pension Plan but Seek Exemptions for Their Own People

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 16, 2018) Caught between the demands of the Kremlin which decides whether they will be in office and the opposing views of their populations that could make their time there easy or difficult, Russia’s governors are simultaneously telling Moscow they support the pension plan but asking it to exempt their own […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pensions in Russia to keep growing after 2024 – Labor Ministry” – Interfax

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. July 9 (Interfax) – Pensions will continue to grow after 2024, but the Labor Ministry is not ready to say at what rate. “We are now calculating everything through 2024, although the calculations undoubtedly cover future periods. We’ll see, it will depend on how we can achieve the current tasks. Without a doubt, we are working on the assumption […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Authorities Prepare to Soften Pension Reform-Sources” – Reuters

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“[Sources claim that] Russian authorities are considering ways to soften a plan to raise the pension age … following protests and a slide in … Putin’s popularity ratings. The government announced its plan last month to raise the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 and for women to 63 from 55 to ease pressure on state coffers from […]

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World Cup May Have Helped Russia But It hasn’t Boosted Putin

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2018) Many commentators in both Russia and the West have suggested that the World Cup has helped Russia to overcome much of the opprobrium it has suffered as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, its meddling in elections in Western countries and in general its disruptive behavior. And it […]

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As World Watches Russia, Opposition Seeks To Score With Pension Protests

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

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – June 20, 2018) – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-world-cup-russia-opposition-pension-protests/29306847.html) As World Cup fever mounts in Russia, opponents of a government plan to raise the retirement age find themselves jostling for political position, with a handful of protests announced against the proposed measure set to coincide with soccer’s centerpiece […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Live Longer, Work Longer, Says Russian Government; But the plan to raise the pension age won’t go down well with most Russians” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 18, 2018) A long-shelved plan to raise the pension age risks coming up against a wall of protest, as Russians of all ages cling to their Soviet-era social privileges. Compared to many Western countries, Russians retire early: men at 60 and women at 55. Those who operate heavy machinery or work in difficult conditions […]

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Russia’s Oil Sector Is Facing A Massive Tax Overhaul

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – June 11, 2018) A major tax overhaul in Russia’s oil industry is about to start pressuring the earnings of major oil companies. Refiners will be hit hardest as the overhaul will increase the tax burden on downstream operations while the upstream sector will see taxes shift from production-based to profit-based. Last week, the Finance and […]

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Three Prospective Reforms Likely to Hurt Putin with His Political Base in the Population

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 3, 2018) Vladimir Putin has the coercive resources and elite support to remain in office regardless of whether the population supports or deserts him, but at least some of his power depends on his ability to mobilize his base which consists of government employees, industrial workers, and especially pensioners. At present, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Military: More Bark Than Bite; Russia remains a long way from possessing the ability to overwhelm larger, better equipped peer competitors” – The National Interest/Richard Connolly, Mathieu Boulegue

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade, adapted from image at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov with credit to Eric Draper

“… on the one hand, senior Russian officials, including the president, are publicly declaring the existence of a range of advanced new weapons systems, while on the other hand, spending plans suggest that the defense burden should decline into the early 2020s. … While official rhetoric in relation to military modernization – and in particular to the development of new […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s finance minister promises no new taxes, but hints at ‘adjustments'” – Meduza

Anton Siluanov file photo

“… Siluanov says Russia has no plans to change its tax system in the next six years, but there will be ‘adjustments.’ … the government is once again considering measures to simplify the tax code, in order to encourage more businesspeople to stop working in the economy’s ‘gray sector’ …. Russian media has repeatedly said the government is discussing major […]

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Putin vs. Pensions: Will His Reelection Finally Free Him To Tackle Looming Crisis?

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – May 16, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-vs-pensions-will-his-reelection-finally-free-him-to-tackle-looming-crisis-/29229857.html) It’s been the third rail of Russian politics for years, if not decades, but now an increasingly fragile economy appears to have forced the Kremlin to finally reckon with the country’s pension crisis. Russia’s pension system — […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Kudrin sets goals following his appointment as head of the Audit Chamber” – Intellinews/Vadim Dumes

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin set out … four main goals following his appointment as … new head of Russia’s Audit Chamber, a state agency …. Russian watchers have been disappointed by Kudrin’s appointment to the … relatively toothless body …. there is a chance that the intention is to beef up the Chamber’s role …. [but the appointment o]n balance … is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Kremlin has big plans for the next five years, and it might need to raise Russia’s retirement age to pay for everything” – Meduza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… a leaked copy of … Medvedev’s next five-year budget plan … [anticipates] 25 trillion rubles ($403.8 billion) on 13 ‘national projects.’ … repeat[ing] many of the priorities of Medvedev’s … presidency and … Putin[] … executive orders. [kommersant.ru/doc/3628758] … new roads … demography … infrastructure … cancer and ‘the digital economy’ … broadband Internet connections [for] public sector facilities. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “To pay for a ‘Russia first’ agenda, Putin takes ax to military spending” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade, adapted from image at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov with credit to Eric Draper

“… [At his inauguration] Putin surprised many … declaring … a relentless focus on domestic development … partially paid for by sharp cuts in defense spending. … [a] projected surge in spending on roads, education, and health care …. A key source of that funding will be [taken from] the military budget … growing by around 10 percent annually for […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government ‘on the brink’ of increasing retirement ages” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

“Russian government ‘is on the brink’ of increasing retirement age in Russia … Medvedev [said] … The current retirement age of 55/60 years was set in USSR … in [the] 1930’s when average life expectancy was 40 … Medvedev argued … * * * The pension fund deficit currently amount[s] to RUB3.35 trillion ($53bn). In 2015 age pensioners amounted to […]

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Russia, Despite Military Ventures, Cut Defense Spending By Most In Decades

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 2, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-despite-ventures-syria-ukraine-cut-military-spending-last-year-most-since-1998-economic-collapse-western-sanctions-recession/29203634.html) Western sanctions and a long recession forced Russia’s military to slash spending by 20 percent last year, its first drop in nearly two decades, a closely followed think-tank report said. Despite Russia’s flexing of its military muscle around the world, with its […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian pension system’s 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted” – Meduza

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“Russia’s Labor Ministry has amended the Pension Fund’s 2018 budget to reflect a deficit that’s more than twice as high as predicted, rising from 106.6 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) to 256.8 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). The Pension Fund is expected to earn just 66.7 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), while spending 83.5 billion rubles ($1.3 billion). Spokespeople for the Pension Fund […]

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Kudrin sees budget maneuver adding 0.5%-1% to Russian GDP growth

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. April 24 (Interfax) – The so-called budget maneuver, which the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) sees as one of the main conditions for achieving sustainable economic growth and a tangible improvement in Russians’ living standards, will make it possible to achieve additional annual economic growth of 0.5% to 1%, CSR chairman and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Back $162 Billion Spending Spree for New Term” – Bloomberg

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“… Putin is planning a roughly 10 trillion-ruble ($162 billion) increase in spending on health care, education and infrastructure, hoping to kick-start sputtering economic growth in his new presidential term, according to people familiar with the plans. …. Some of the new spending will be offset with cuts … — the budget already calls for gradual reductions in military spending […]

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Kremlin Officials Split Over Putin’s Economic Promises

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 23, 2018) Russian fiscal policymakers are wrangling over how to fulfil newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin’s spending promises, with one senior Kremlin figure advocating a quick but painful revenue grab and another a more radical overhaul of taxation. During his campaign Putin promised higher healthcare and infrastructure spending, but did not say how this […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Voters Left Guessing at Putin’s Economic Plan” – Reuters

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“… Putin will enter Sunday’s election with little agreement among his top policymakers on an economic strategy for his next term …. Many Russians … prospered … [when] high oil prices contribut[ed] to bumper growth rates before … 2008 …. But the economy sank into recession after Western … sanctions … [over] Ukraine. A collapse in oil prices and the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia explained in 10 charts” – BBC/ Alex Murray, Tom Housden, Anastasia Napalkova, Sandra Rodriguez Chillida, Joy Roxas, Zoe Bartholomew

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

“1. Fewer people are poor … 2. But wage growth has stalled recently … 3. More people have a car, and there are more microwaves than households … 4. Russians fell in love with Ikea … 5. And champagne … There’s some dispute over how much Russians drink. … 6. … the internet took off … 7. But circuses are […]

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Russia should allocate at least 3.4 trln rubles for demographic development within next 6 years – Putin

Couple in Hospital with Newborn

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – At least 3.4 trillion rubles should be allocated for demographic development within the next six years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday. “We will have to allocate at least 3.4 trillion rules for demographic development measures and for the welfare of mothers and children within the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “‘Russia’s Arctic military construction bigger than other countries’ – Shoigu” – Interfax-AVN

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

With regard to Russian military construction in the Arctic: “[Says] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu … ‘Since 2013, we have built 545 installations on over 710,000 square meters under Far North conditions. No other country in the world has carried out such massive construction on the Arctic latitudes’” Apparently with regard to broader Russian military infrastructure: “‘The geography of construction […]

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Interfax: Russia could have budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP, NWF could grow 3.5 trillion rubles in 2018 – Econ Ministry

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax) – Russia could have a budget surplus of 1.2% of GDP in 2018 if current oil prices persist, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said in its latest monthly monitoring report. The National Welfare Fund (NWF) could in that case grow by 3.5 trillion rubles or around $60 billion at the current rate, it said. The NWF […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? Russia is having to balance its demand for more advanced weapons with a slew of other priorities” – Moscow Times/Michael Kofman

Russian Soldiers Marching

“… the military … will probably continue operations [in Syria]. … [and] continue to fuel its other major conflict, Ukraine … supporting proxy forces in breakaway republics in the … east. But … Russia’s … Armed Forces are at a crossroads. Divergent spending priorities, resource constraints and myriad dilemmas loom …. * * * The Armed Forces may expand, but … […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin to Push State-of-Nation Speech Closer to March Vote, Officials Say” – Bloomberg/Stepan Kravchenko, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya

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

“The Kremlin has decided to delay … Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech to [take place] closer to the March 18 vote [providing] a key platform … to lay out priorities for his next presidential term, according to three officials familiar with the plans. … Putin is expected to discuss proposals for higher spending on popular domestic programs like health and education, while […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Weighs Biggest Spending Spree Since Putin’s Re-Election” – Bloomberg/Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov, Evgenia Pismennaya, Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Russia’s government is discussing a proposal to turn on the fiscal taps in what would be the biggest domestic spending spree since President Vladimir Putin last ran for re-election in 2012. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow” – Carnegie Moscow/ Andrey Pertsev

Russia Regions Map

“Russian regional leaders are rediscovering their power and their ability to fight with Moscow over budgets and autonomy. Discontent over Moscow siphoning off regional funds has reached a breaking point, while Tatarstan is in a new contest with the center over regional language rights. …”  

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Kudrin says govt studying his proposals at Putin’s instructions

Alexei Kudrin file photo

MOSCOW. Nov 25 (Interfax) – Alexei Kudrin, head of the Center of Strategic Research and Committee of Civic Initiatives and former Russian finance minister, says President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to analyze his proposals on Russia’s development strategy. “I reported the key provisions of our proposals on the country’s development strategy to him. That primarily concerns the budget […]

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Interfax: Russia’s defense spending tops 5.3% of GDP, near $70 bln – PwC

File Photo of Close-Up of Line of Russian Soldiers in Dress Uniforms for Parade

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – Russia ranks seventh among the world’s major defense-industry players, with defense expenditures totaling $69.2 billion, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in a statement regarding its second Global Defense Perspectives report. In the current rating, Russia occupies seventh place; its defense expenditures amount to 5.32% of GDP and total $69.2 billion. It has moved up one position since […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Russia Calling! Investment Forum” – KremlinRu

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

(kremlin.ru – Oct. 24, 2017) Vladimir Putin spoke at the annual Russia Calling! Investment Forum organized by VTB Capital. This year’s event is being held under the slogan Manage the Difficulties, Control the Risks. The forum is the leading event in attracting portfolio and strategic investment in the Russian economy and promotes effective cooperation between Russian businesses and international investors. […]

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