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Economic News in Review, July
6 August 2008
Economic News in Review, July

Economic News in Review
for July, 2008

The following resource is meant to quickly introduce the reader to some of Russia's major business news for the month. Please note that we strive to focus on more specific, less-well-covered issues. This news review is developed in conjunction with The School of Russian and Asian Studies, which also produces several other reviews ("obzori") each month.

Please note that this month's edition is intended as as a supplement to the accompanying USRCCNE newsletter. To subscribe to this newsletter, input your email address on our homepage (in the bottom left corner).

 

Russian Cos. Could Save Money
All of the companies surveyed had planned expenses, but only 43 percent of them considered macroeconomic forecasts and 30 percent took state policy into account.

Economic Prognosis for July, 2008
Experts will answer the following questions: what will happen to the dollar exchange rate, how high the inflation in the Russian consumer market will be, how the world oil prices will change, how the dollar and the euro will behave in the world currency market?

World Bank Says Post-Communist Reforms Nearly Done
The World Bank has acknowledged that, at least in several European countries, market reforms have led to the creation of economies that differ very little from those in the West.

 

SMEs and Entrepreneurship

State Biz Aid Stops at 1 Billion
The government established the criteria on Friday for micro, small and medium business, which can receive government aid.

Israeli Bank to Fund Russian Small Biz
Hapoalim, Israel's largest bank, announced yesterday that it was prepared to acquire a 78-percent interest in the small Russian SDM Bank for $111 million.

Medvedev Sticks Up For Private Business
In a second attempt this week to calm investors worried about the Mechel affair, President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday called on authorities to stop harassing businesses and private companies to start paying taxes in full.

Meeting to Discuss Property Rights of SMEs
In order to put an end to this disgraceful situation, I would like to inform you that today I signed a plan on countering corruption, and we will begin work on it very soon.

Government backs bills to aid small businesses
A government board has approved four bills aimed at removing administrative barriers for businesses.

Businessmen Have Low Approval
Hardly more than half (51%) of Russians think that the activities of Russian entrepreneurs are beneficial to the state.

 

Foreigners Abroad

Expat Business Community Gets AmCham Aid
AmCham Russia originates from the American Business Club (ABC), created informally by a group of businessmen after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.

Moscow Ranked Most Expensive City For Expats Third Year Running
Moscow is the world's most expensive city for expats for the third consecutive year, according to the annual Cost of Living Survey from HR consultancy Mercer.

Hotels May Register Foreigners
The Russian Federation Council approved a law Friday that would allow hotels to register arriving foreigners. Now only migration records agencies and the post office can register foreigners.

Employment Quota Not to Extend to Nonresident Top Managers
Russia's Health and Social Development Ministry intends to ease procedures for employing nonresident experts,

No More Russia-EU Visas in a Few Years
Russia and the European Union are ready to cancel visa procedures in two or three years, stated chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev.

 

Technology and Telecoms

Chubais to Deal with High-Tech, Innovation
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has strengthened the High-Tech and Innovation Commission of the Government by Rosnanotekh Supervisory Board member Anatoly Chubais.

Medvedev approves Russia state asset consolidation
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has approved a plan to hand control of hundreds of state-owned assets to Rostekhnologii despite resistance from inside his government.

Nanotech Is Good, Whatever It Is
The overwhelming majority of Russians are convinced that nanotechnology can be of benefit to people, although a significant number of Russians have no idea about the accomplishments of nanotechnology.

Russia to Double Space Spending in 2009
The space spending of Russia's budget will grow more than two-fold on year in 2009.

Adobe Plans First Release in Russia
The Adobe company, known for its graphics package Photoshop and PDF file-reader Acrobat, has begun the mass production of its products in Russia

Usmanov Buys Portion of Odnoklassniki.ru
Businessman Alisher Usmanov is in talks about buying from Digital Sky Technologies (DST) a portion of Odnoklassniki.ru.

High technology in Russia
Russia is trying to build a high-tech economy, but red tape is strangling it.

Russia officials told to learn to use computers
"We don't hire people who can't read and write. Computer literacy today is the same."

Developing an Information Society in Russia
At these meetings of the State Council we always take up the most important issues for the development of our country.

 

Telecoms

Russia Has 173mn Mobile Subscribers
The number of cell phone users in Russia grew 2 million on month to 173 million in June, Reuters reported with reference to AC&M. On year growth reached 12.7 million.

Rostelekom Goes Abroad
The board of directors of Rostelekom approved an outline for the company's strategic development through 2012 at a meeting on Monday.

Russia's President Expects AFK Sistema to Invest in Russia
"We need ambitious tasks, achievements on global market, the economy won't be strong without it," Interfax quoted Medvedev as saying.

Sistema Crosses the Himalayas
The company has received a license to provide cellular services in China.

 

Retail

Mall Developer Targets Russia
As retail growth slows in the U.S., one of America's largest shopping-mall developers is betting that catering to Russia's growing affluent class will ease the impact of hard times at home.

Trading Bill to Be Revaluated
According to people in the ministry, the key amendments will soften antimonopoly regulations and encourage development of chain stores.

 

Inflation

Inflation to Exceed 25% for the Poorest
Taken for the poorest Russians, the 2008 inflation will be notably above the official outlook of 10.5 percent, climbing to the height of 25 percent

A Week without Inflation!
Inflation in Russia has finally slowed perceptibly. In the week of July 22-28, there was no consumer price growth, Rosstat reported on Wednesday.

Industrial Inflation Twice Consumer Rate
Rising production costs have hit a rate that is the highest since 2004 28.1 percent annually.

Inflation Fuels Consumer Spending
The consumer-market spending accounted for 54.2 percent of the June income of Russians, said the country's statistics authority Rosstat. The analysts see the key reason of it in the general unpredictability and high inflation.

 

Real Estate

Goldman Sachs Buys Foreigners' Village
At Pokrovskie Hills enclave in northwest Moscow, only employees of embassies and transnational corporations rent housing. 

Real Estate Agency Falls to Demolition
For the first time, a big company of Russia's realtor market is on the verge of being acknowledged bancrupt. Moscow Investment Agency of Real Estate (MIAN) has been presented with tax charges of 1.2 billion rubles.

 

Aviation

United Airlines Delays Russian Service
The airline was to begin service to Russia in October of this year. Now that service will start in March.

Aeroflot Won't Fly the Serbian Skies
Aeroflot was expected to be the main contender for the airline but, kerosene prices being what they are, the prospect of saving the airline, which has an aging fleet and $385 million in debt, is no longer of interest to it.

Pulkovo Getting Ready for Takeoff
St. Petersburg authorities will announce today a list of bidders seeking to manage Pulkovo International Airport.

SSJ Takes a Late Flight to Customers
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft has concluded an engagement agreement with Avialeasing of Perm for the delivery of 24 SSJ 100 aircraft at a cost of more than $630 million with an option for 16 more.

Sukhoi Sold 25 Superjets to Europe
During Farnborough International Airshow 2008, SuperJet International has clinched deals to supply five Superjet 100s to Swiss Amo and another 20 jets to other foreign companies.

Irkut Moves into Civil Aviation
The Irkut scientific design complex, one of the two makers of the Su-30 fighter jet, will be reorganized for the production of civil aircraft.

Sukhoi Superjet Comes in Late
The delivery of the new Sukhoi Superjet 100, the most ambitious project in the Russian aviation industry in 15 years, has been delayed.

 

Advertising

No Humor in Russia's Ads
Comic advertising accounts for 10 percent to 30 percent of all ad market of the United States, the U.S. market analysts concluded. Humor is a selling factor, the psychologists specify.

P&G Ads Return to Channel One
The Procter & Gamble corporation, Russia's largest advertiser, will again place its ads on Channel One, after a seven-month absence.

 

Food and Agribusiness

Could Russia Feed The World?
Economists believe Russia may provide the answer to shortages of food around the world and prevent famines over the next decade.

Moscow acts to control grain
Russia plans to form a state grain trading company to control up to half of the country's cereal exports, intensifying fears that Moscow wants to use food as a diplomatic weapon in the same way as Gazprom has manipulated natural gas sales.

Ag. Min. Sets Up State Grain Trader
A state company will become Russia's largest seller of grain when the state-owned company OAO Agency for the Regulation of Food Prices is reorganized. Authorities foresee 40-50 percent of all Russian grain exports going through the company by 2011.

Russia Needs Twice As Much Grain To Meet Its Needs
The Russian Agriculture Ministry forecasts that this year's grain harvest will amount to 85 million tons, which is not enough to guarantee the country's absolute food security, experts said at a news conference on Monday.

Scottish farmers eye new pastures in Russia
Fed up with red tape, falling crop prices and the daily struggle just to survive, a group of Scottish farmers will head east.

Russians say no to 'cola-nization'
A kvas revival has taken hold as Russia's companies pitch it as a patriotic cola alternative, and Russians are repatriating their tastebuds with gusto.

Biola Leaked Into Russia
The Ukrainian juice-maker will invest 200 million to build a juice plant in the Rostov region.

Luzhkov Cares about Food Prices
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is calling on the Russian government to turn its attention to a possible sharp growth in prices for imported foods.

Beer Is Flat
Brewing in Russia stepped up 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Russia has neared Europe in terms of beer production and consumption.

Ag. Ministry Won't Regulate Imports
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has unexpectedly reversed the May 12 decree transferring authority to the Agriculture Ministry to develop regulations on the import of foodstuffs.

The last Soviet vodka brands are handed over to Rosimushchestvo
Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Victor Zubkov ordered that the Economic as well as the Industry and Trade Ministry prepare the handing over of the right of ownership of these brands.

 

Automotive

Russian Car Market Passes Germany as Europe's Biggest
Russia surpassed Germany as Europe's biggest auto market in the first half as sales rose 41 percent to 1.65 million cars.

GM Negotiates Expansion in Russia
The American carmaker General Motors is negotiating with Russian car producers to expand its business in Russia.

One Plant in Russia Isn't Enough for GM
Lured, perhaps, by proximity to seaports, the company's delegation inspected past week an allotment in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia.

Favorite Motors on the Net
Yoshida Cord will launch an Internet car auction under the same name. Favorite Motors will have the controlling share in the business.

Russia Launches Chevrolet Cruze Assembly
One of the world biggest carmakers, General Motors, will set to assembling Chevrolet Cruze at facilities in St. Petersburg in summer of 2009.

KamAZ Teams Up with Daimler
The German Daimler will buy 42 percent of the stock in the plant by yearend.

 

Investment

From Russia

Oligarchs Buy Homes In Chic U.S. Enclaves
As many of America's wealthy are roiled by the credit crisis and general financial gloom, a growing number of rich Russians are house-shopping -- and buying -- in costly U.S. enclaves.

Russia denies losses on U.S. investments
Russia has not made losses from investing its $578 billion reserves despite turbulence in global financial markets.

Russians Are Coming, Wallets in Hand
This Year, They Have Bought $4.2 Billion In U.S. Companies, Assets; Expect More.

Russians Hold $75 Billion in U.S. Agencies
The Consequences of Growing U.S.-Russia Financial Ties.

 

To Russia

Russia investment up, but climate uncertain
Though foreign investment in Russia hit record highs last year, the country must ease investor fears about government interference and reform faster to keep money flowing in.

Russia wins back investors
The net inflow of capital in the first half of 2008 reached $12.3 billion.

Nonresident Investors to Pull Out Money of Russia
Even if they haven't set the process into motion yet, nonresident investors will soon start withdrawing money from Russia's assets, RBC Daily forecasted, drawing attention to the situation on the interbank and foreign exchange markets of the country.

IFC to Invest up to $800mn in Russia
International Finance Corporation (IFC) may invest between $500 million and $800 million.

 

Finance, Stocks, and Banking

Moscow to Be in the Center of Global Finance
Russia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is elaborating an action plan to create an international financial center in the country.

Russia Freezes Foreign Loans for Next Three Years
The federal budget has enough money for all its planned investment and additional needs.

 

Banking and Loans

Sberbank Cuts Costs, Freezes Personnel
These moves will help the country's largest bank lower its high costs, but it may lead to higher unemployment rates in some regions of Russia.

Bank Efficiency Not to Reach 3%
The efficiency of Russia's bank sector will be below 3 percent in 2008, Interfax reported with reference to Mikhail Sukhov, director of credit institutions' licensing and financial recovery department at the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

CBR Toughens Reserve Requirements
The BOD of Central Bank of Russia has resolved today to increase the requirement for mandatory reserves of credit institutions starting from September 1, 2008. 

Global Credit Crunch Affects Russian Loans
The rise in people taking out mortgages in Russia has come crashing down from a 167-percent leap in 2007 to 19 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Moody's Raises Russia's Rating
Moody's international rating agency has raised Russia's rating from Baa2 to Baa1.

 

Stocks and IPOs

The IPO Stagnation
Global market had 258 IPOs for the total worth of $37.4 billion in the second quarter (247 IPOs worth $41.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008).

Japanese Bank Creates RTS Fund
The new fund will have capital of $50 million. It is to be listed on July 29 with between 15 million and 25 million shares.

Beware The Russian Bear Market
Russian shares are down more than 20 percent from the highs they enjoyed just months ago. One reason for the looming bear market is the Kremlin's tendency to use strong-arm tactics against foreign investors and Russian entrepreneurs.

Kremlin corporate crackdown sends markets tumbling
A series of state crackdowns on private companies have plunged Russian markets into turmoil and sent foreign investors fleeing.

Slump on Russia's Stock Market Creates Panic
The stocks of Russia's exchanges continue to decline. RTS shed 5 percent to 1,962.8 as of 2:01 p.m. MSK and MICEX fell 5.6 percent to 1,485.

VTB Gets IPO
This will be VTB's first complete IPO underwriting. The global underwriters will be Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

 

Oil, Gas, and Energy

Alternative Fuel: Russia's (Modest) Strides
There is one factor that could seriously affect demand for alternative fuel in Russia: parity in energy costs, something that is forecasted to happen within the next few years.

Vice Premier to Inject $8bn in Refining
If the project is finally implemented, Russia will have the first new big refinery constructed since the time of the Soviet Union.

Govt to Limit Power Consumption
Potential limits on using power-consuming equipment were the concern of a meeting that First Vice Premier Igor Shuvalov held with ministries' representatives

Gazprom Neft to Offer a Field to Chevron
Gazprom Neft is ready to propose to the U.S. Chevron another field in Western Siberia for joint development.

Repsol Heading for Russian Shelf
The Spanish company Repsol YPF is in negotiations with Rosneft on the purchase of 24 percent of the Venin block of Sakhalin 3. The cost of that package is around $70 million. Repsol is also ready to invest $64 million in exploration of the block this year.

FAS Blames Oil Cos. for High Prices
The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service in record time fulfilled the assignment it received last Friday from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to get to the bottom of the rising prices for aviation fuel.

State Duma OKed Tax Holidays for Oilmen
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has passed in the final third reading a bill that improves tax conditions for economy's development.

Russneft Neared Tax Settlement
Tax officers called back yesterday three of seven claims on expropriating the stocks of Russneft. The claims had been based on Clause 169 of the RF Civil Code, but the Supreme Arbitration Court banned from referring to this clause in tax business.

LUKOIL Fills Er Up in Turkey
The deal will allow the company to occupy 5 percent of the Turkish market and increase its overseas network by 18 percent to 4830 stations.

 

TNK-BP

Head of BP Venture, Citing Harassment, Leaves Russia
"We regret that Mr Dudley has been subjected to such sustained attacks and consequently has decided to leave Russia."

Row at TNK-BP could hit Russia 2009 oil output
The four billionaires have demanded a $900 million cut in capital spending at TNK-BP for the rest of 2008.

Russian Group Suggests Ending TNK-BP Fight by Buying BP's Stake
Russian billionaires expressed interest in buying the U.K. company's 50 percent stake, the latest salvo in their battle for control.

TNK-BP Looks for Top-Notch Employees
TNK-BP Executive Officer for Gas Business Viktor Vekselberg has addressed a letter to CEO Robert Dudley (who is currently abroad) to notify him that he committed chiefs of the company's divisions to elaborate the lists of positions that are vacant because of 148 foreign specialists recently withdrawn from the country.

 

Gazprom

Gazprom Begins Personnel Cuts
This means the elimination of more than 500 of the company's highest-paying positions. Sources say branch offices will also be affected and some divisions may cut up to 20 percent of their employees.

Gazprom Stocks Converted to ADRs for $1.4bn in April
Holders of Russia's gas monopoly, Gazprom, converted to ADRs the stocks worth $1.4 billion in April, Interfax reported. The share of ADRs was 22.4 percent as of May 8 vs. 21.95 percent by close of the first quarter.

Gazprom Reassesses; Stock Rises
Gazprom's proven reserves of natural gas grew 0.6 percent to 18.27 trillion cu. m. by international PRMS standards in 2007.

 

Energy Exports

Russia's energy drive leaves US reeling
Last week, the gloves finally came off the Dmitry Medvedev presidency in Russia. It had to happen sooner or later, but few would have expected this soon.

World should not fear Russian oil companies-Sechin
Sechin, who is also chairman of state-controlled oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said he did not understand why the West perceived Russia as posing an "energy threat."

Gazprom Libya Bid Imperils Moves to Curb Russia's Energy Clout
Moves by Russia's state-run OAO Gazprom to buy African energy assets threaten to thwart U.S. efforts to limit Moscow's use of oil and gas as political weapons.

Gazprom is raising prices... for everybody!
Miller specified that by the end of this year, the average European price for gas will exceed $500 per 1,000 cubic meters compared with the current price of $410.

European Parliament Voted Against Nord Stream
A new barrier has emerged en route of Nord Stream.

Eni Supplies Gas to Russia
The Italian concern Eni will be the first Western company to supply natural gas to the Russian electricity industry.

They Don't Even Know Those Numbers!
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a G8 statement yesterday that urged oil producing countries to increase production immediately in order to lower prices.

Gazprom Ready to Sue Belarus
Gazprom has warned Belarus that, if Belarus does not meet its obligations to pay for Russian natural gas in full, the company will retain the right to sue.

Gazprom Connects to Iran
The Iranian company, which all other oil companies in the world refuse to work with, is promising Gazprom "a full package of projects."

Gazprom to Pump Gas of Other Nations to Spain
Gazprom said this move will help build up a flexible system for supplying the gas acquired, for instance, in Libya or Azerbaijan.

Tymoshenko Compromised with Gazprom
Ukrainian government and Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom have compromised in fixing gas prices for Ukraine in 2009.

 

Atomic

Russian Machines Builds Atomic Plant
Russian Machines will create a joint venture with Rosatom to engineer and build atomic plants of the new, fourth generation. Russian Machines will invest $1 billion in it.

Atomstroiexport, Atomenergoproekt Unite
Leonid Reznikov has been appointed president of Atomstroiexport to replace Sergey Shmatko, who became minister of energy in May.

Putin: "Frightful Money" for Atom Power
About a trillion rubles will be allocated from the state budget for the development of atomic energy through 2015.

 

Metals and Wood

Five Companies Filed Bids for Udokan
Russian Federal Agency for Subsoil Use (Rosnedra) has drawn up results of the bidding campaign for one of the world's biggest copper deposit, Udokan, the Chita region of Russia.

Russia to Join WTO When Finland Permits
Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) no sooner than it settles the timber-tarriff conflict with the EU, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Russia halts big foreign holdings in minerals
The door to investment in Russia's vast mineral resources was almost shut to foreigners yesterday as government regulators tightened rules on share sales.

Evraz Joins Chinese in Aussie Iron Buy
The Evraz Group has acquired 16 percent of Cape Lambert Iron Ore China Metallurgical Group plans to buy 70 percent of the same company.

Metalloinvest Saves Money on Credit
The holding had planned to eliminate its debts through a Eurobond issue, but it changed course after the interest rate on the bonds was found to be unsatisfactory.

Rusal urges re-election of Nornickel heads
Rusal accuses Interros of abuse and hopes that gaining the support of Nornickel's minor shareholders, it'll change the state of affairs.

Esmark Prepared Golden Parachutes for Severstal
Should Esmark execs decide to leave Esmark Steel or be dismissed from it, Severstal will have to pay $9.3 million.

Smelters Have Right to 80% Price Hike
An inspection by the Federal Antimonopoly Service has not uncovered any irregularities in the actions of Russian metals companies that have raised their prices several times since the beginning of the year for a total of about 82 percent.

Evraz to Join the Club of 5 Biggest Steelmakers
Russia's Evraz Group is negotiating the takeover of Industrial Union of Donbass.

Prokhorov Vs Potanin: Court Battle Begins
ONEXIM chief Prokhorov lodged a suit to the Moscow Arbitration Court, seeking protection for his business reputation.

Deripaska Accepted Potanin
This offer of Potanin could be attributed to the plans to set up a global mining and metallurgical company based on Norilsk Nickel assets.

 

Mechel Debacle 

Mechel meltdown
Is this the start of another Yukos affair?

Putin's Attacke on Mechel - Another Siloviki Power Play?
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week accused the Russian coal and steel producer Mechel of price-fixing and made a veiled threat against the company's owner, Igor Zyuzin.

Medvedev's Russia investment pitch under pressure
"The last train carrying the optimists out of Russian equities has just left the station," said Chris Weafer, a strategist at Moscow investment bank Uralsib.

Antimonopoly Service to Sit for Mechel in the Nearest 2 Weeks
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) will hold its first sitting dedicated to the case of Mechel, Evraz Holding and Raspadsky Ugol in the nearest two weeks.

 

Demographics

Russia: A continent unto itself
The pride and the nationalism both bolster Russians' sense of their own peculiarity - which can translate into feeling superior, but at the same time help mask an often-present sense of grievance, or inferiority.

Why is the middle class heading abroad?
The basic image of Russia's middle class is a salary of 50,000 rubles for each family member, a foreign car, good education, personal library and newly built summer home.

President Medvedev Acknowledges Deficit Of High-rank Officials In Russia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has acknowledged this country has a huge problem with choosing candidates for high governmental and even gubernatorial positions.

Incentivized Birth
How Russia's baby-boosting policies are hurting the population.

Russia's shoppers can look but cannot afford to buy
The sharp upturn in inflation has once again made "prices are rising" the most widespread popular complaint.

No more workers
Russia's employment level is approaching a ceiling. Is the Russian economy running out of labor?

Boosting Population a Vague Science
The government hasn't made enough effort to get to the root of the problem or to measure whether the policies it has put in place to deal with the demographic crisis are really helping.

Russia's MBA Boom
While the benefits of an education at Wharton are easy to see there are currently mixed opinions on how an MBA from a Russian business school will impact on your career.

Higher Education Fastest Growing Area of Bribery
A four-year study revealed that corruption across the higher education sector accounts for around 21 percent of the total market for that period.

 

Regions

Dissatisfaction on the Rise in Provincial Russia
It is often said in Russia that dissatisfaction with the country's existing political system is greater among those living in the cities than those living in the countryside.

"Almost Like in Moscow"
The Rise of Alternative Urban Centers in Russia.

In the Altai, Russia's far border
The driest inhabited place in the Russian Federation, the town is surrounded by mountains and infinite stretches of twisting gravel roads.

 

Heathcare

Russia Scorns Methadone for Heroin Addiction
Members of a Kremlin youth group called the Young Guard arrived, crowding the hotel's entrance and denouncing the participants as criminals and paid agents of the West.

Meeting on Healthcare Development
I ask the Health and Social Development Ministry to draw up a list of the technology for practical introduction. Everything that I have just mentioned requires solid funding and the state will increase expenditure in this area.

 

Migrants / Xenophobia

Climate Change Said Behind Migration of Central Asians to Russia
according to research conducted by the World Wildlife Fund.

In Russia, Migrant Workers Live In Fear Of Racism
Routine beatings and homicides are spreading fear among migrant workers from Central Asia and southern Russia.

Racist Crime Numbers Explode
The number of hate crimes committed in Moscow has exploded this year, rising sixfold compared to the same period last year, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said Friday.

 

Government

Economic Fundamentals Worrisome for "Tandemocracy"
The presidential administration and the government, despite their deeply overlapping functions, have painstakingly demarcated the boundaries of their authority and demonstrated restraint in asserting their bureaucratic power. 

Medvedev adviser in attack on Putin over market fall
Igor Yurgens who heads a think-tank advising the president, said: "It is not correct to destroy your own stock market . . . and wipe off $60bn."

Medvedev to shake up Russian regions: report
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev plans to replace dozens of regional governors over the next few years in an attempt to increase his influence within officialdom.

Abramovich Steps Down As Chukotka Governor
Roman Abramovich, one of the richest men on the planet, has stepped down as Governor of Russias Arctic region of Chukotka. This, however, does not mean an end to his investment in the regions poor economy.

Russia: how to spend the petrodollars?
While many people in Russia have profited from the high price of oil and gas and the influx of petrodollars from abroad, others have been losing out.

Medvedev's Economic Policy: A Study in Contradictions
Recent decisions by Medvedev seemingly increase the state's role in the economy and thus work at cross purposes with his anti-corruption drive and his stated goals of de-bureaucratizing and liberalizing the Russian economy.

Russia begins state boards reshuffle with Transneft
Russia's Transneft became on Thursday the first large state company to see a change on its board to accommodate new independent directors.

Russian president enacts law on Arctic oil work
President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday signed a law enabling the Kremlin to handpick companies to develop the vast oil reserves believed to be located in the Russian Arctic.

Industrious Financier to Deal with Pensions
Chief of Finance and Economic Department of the RF Government Anton Drozdov will probably head the Pension Fund of Russia.

Medvedev Hands Putin National Projects
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairman of the presidium of the Council for the Implementation of Priority National Projects.

Central Bank Strengthens Ruble More
The Central Bank of Russia yesterday unexpectedly strengthened the ruble in the two-currency basket (0.45+$0.55), raising it 9.3 kopecks, or 0.3 percent, to 29.43 rubles.

Tax Service Writes Instructions
Tax auditors in the Russian capital now want to know about an audited company's partners and, beside the traditional enquiries into a firm's activities and employees' salaries, the taxman will take note even of the IP addresses a firm uses for electronic banking.

Economic Stagnation Is Now Official
Deputy Economics Minister Andrey Klepach presented a new version of the macroeconomic forecast for 2008-2011.

 

Corruption and Crime

Russian Corruption: an Evil to Eradicate or a Necessary "Lubricant?"
Russia's political class is continuing to debate the issue of corruption, with some observers again expressing doubts that President Dmitry Medvedev's anti-corruption drive will succeed where past efforts failed.

In a River Raid, a Glimpse Of Russia's Criminal Elite
It is unclear why they gathered. A police statement said it was to discuss "escalating problems of the criminal world."

High stakes in Russia's corruption battle
Interview with Elena Panfilova.

Lawmaker Presents Bill For War on Corruption
A communist lawmaker has drawn up a draft law targeting corrupt senior bureaucrats in St Petersburg in what he says is a response to President Dmitry Medvedev's declaration of an all-out war on corruption.

The president signed the anticorruption bill
They do not expect fast results from it in the Kremlin, but they expect violators to feel the inescapability of punishment.

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