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Russia imposes massive sanctions on Ukraine, but spares Chocolate King Poroshenko

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:50
Russia imposed economic sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies. The Kremlin hopes that the sanctions will help normalise Ukraine's relations with Russia. The decree to impose sanctions against Ukrainian natural persons and legal entities was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to counteract unfriendly actions against Russian citizens and organisations.Russia will thus freeze bank accounts, securities and property in Russia for individuals and legal entities of Ukraine. In addition, it will not be allowed to withdraw capital outside Russia. The sanctions apply to judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 8th convocation, major Ukrainian entrepreneurs, officials of the presidential administration of Ukraine, heads of executive bodies and large Ukrainian companies, legal entities controlled by Ukraine's largest businessmen.Russia's sanctions will in particular affect Ukrainian MP Anton Gerashchenko, the leader of the Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko, former head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev, chief military prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios and the son of Ukrainian President, businessman Alexei Poroshenko. The sanctions will also be imposed on chemical company Ukrhimenergo, located in the Luhansk region.Russia may lift the sanctions in the event Ukraine lifts its sanctions against Russia. Reportedly, however, Russia's sanctions list does not include Ukraine's wealthiest man Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune was evaluated at $5.5 billion according to Forbes magazine. Akhmetov's key industrial assets are concentrated in the Donbas, from where he comes. His companies provide electricity and heat to most of Ukraine's settlements.The list of Russia's sanctions against Ukraine does not include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman. The sanctions will not affect businessman Igor Kononenko - Poroshenko's right hand and his main business partner. Poroshenko's confectionary holding Roshen does not appear on the lists either. Introducing retaliatory measures against Ukraine, the Kremlin expects Kiev to show political will to normalise relations with the Russian Federation sooner or later, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.When asked about the absence of Ukrainian president on Russia's black lists, Peskov said that presidents usually are not included on sanctions lists as it would be off the scale, Putin's official spokesman said. Ukraine imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian citizens after Russia reunited with the Crimea in 2014. Ukraine has been expanding its restrictions against Russia afterwards. In May 2018, the list contained the names of 1,748 Russian individuals and 756 legal entities. They are Russian MPs, Russian political parties, businessmen and their companies.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Is Putin guilty of the Kerch school massacre?

Fri, 19/10/2018 - 19:13
Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of Valdai Discussion Club that the tragedy at the Polytechnic College in the city of Kerch was "a result of globalisation." However, he did not say who has drawn us into this globalisation."In social networks, on the Internet, we can see that whole communities being created. Everything started with well-known tragic events at schools in the United States," the President of the Russian Federation said. Well, it is easy to blame abstract "globalisation" for what happened. In fact, one may come to a completely different conclusion, and one needs to look for it in the policy of the elite, to which Mr. Putin belongs. Russia lacks youth organisations, like the ones we used to have during the Soviet times - Pioneer or Komsomol organisations. In the Soviet Union, there were no such tragedies, nor were there any security guards and metal detectors at schools - there were teachers and students instead. Sergei Komkov, President of the All-Russian Education Fund, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that the Kerch massacre came as a consequence of the educational reform which Russia had been conducting on the advice of American specialists. "We warned 15-20 years ago that a tragedy like the one that happened in Kerch would be possible in Russia by analogy with what was happening in America," the expert said. The expert referred to the book by Bel Kaufman, "Up The Down Staircase," in which the author talks about the morale at American school in the 60-70s. "I flew to the USA in the 1990s. I was observing how things were working there, and they deported me in 1997 after I told them what it would all end up with," the expert told Pravda.Ru. During the 1990s, in accordance with recommendations from Soros advisors, Russia started reforming its educational system on the American template. "They had eradicated the ideological component, the system of upbringing, and switched to the mere transfer of knowledge and skills," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.All school youth organisations were taken out of schools. In addition, on the advice of Westerners, all additional education could be received for money. The reform sharply divided the youth based on the income of their parents, Sergey Komkov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. According to the expert, an army of hopeless children had appeared in Russia already in the late 1990s. Children did not know what to do as their parents were doing their best to try to survive during the time of the crisis," the expert told Pravda.Ru. The system of upbringing should be restored at Russian schools as well. "The first thing we need to do is to kick all Western advisers right out. One needs to close the Higher School of Economics, because this school is a nest of American and British advisers. It was them who introduced the Unified State Exam system, the testing system, the system of sex education - they are trying to prove it to us that the most important thing is the system of education, rather than upbringing.""Security guards cannot protect children. They can be protected if they get engaged in creative work, hiking trips, including to sites of military glory, if they sing in the choir, learn how to dance, how to draw, if they are busy with research activities and history studies. In this case, an idea to grab a rifle and go to school to kill other kids will not occur to them," the expert told Pravda.Ru. "We must have our own brains to do everything the Russian way and avoid the American template," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia wants to switch the world to its own SWIFT system

Thu, 04/10/2018 - 14:13
Foreign companies will be able to access the Russian equivalent of the SWIFT payment system. The State Duma is preparing a bill designed to protect the companies that have fallen under Western sanctions in order to give them a possibility to conduct mutual settlements with foreign counterparties. Russian MPs believe that the system will function most effectively if the BRICS countries, as well as Iran and Turkey, join it. "Although they plan to use national currencies in settlements with Russia, but they do not exclude that settlements can be conducted through the Russian equivalent of SWIFT," Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets said. Earlier, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, said that connecting foreign companies to the financial messaging system would expand possibilities for mutual exchange of messages and settlements between sanctioned companies that do not have access to making payments through the original SWIFT system, and foreign contractors.The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a financial messaging system known for the Russian initials as SPFS. The bill stipulates for direct messaging between both Russian and foreign legal entities.According to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, there are more than 400 participants in the SPFS system, including banks, the federal treasury, legal entities, and corporate clients. "Inside the country, our system covers the exchange in financial messages completely," a source at the Central Bank of Russia said. "If we talk about cross-border operations, they can be implemented only on the basis of the agreement between several countries. There are such discussions happening already on the level of both the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS."In the near future, SWIFT may have another competitor in Europe. The head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, said in August that the European Union was in need of its own and independent SWIFT system to protect the financial stability of European companies from US sanctions. Russia found such an intention of European partners quite natural. After the appearance of the European SWIFT system, Russia intends to offer European companies to incorporate a Russian analogue to SWIFT."The possibility to connect foreign countries to the Russian system depends on a number of factors. As for Iran, a lot depends on the volume of economic cooperation that is going to happen. So far, it has not been large at all, but there are reasons for it to grow, especially in the oil and gas sector," Nikolai Kozhanov, a researcher at the European University at St. Petersburg Energy Policy Research Center said. Turkey is already showing willingness to cooperate with the Russian SWIFT. "The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a revolutionary innovation in the digital world. The possibility of its use by Turkish companies can provide an important development of trade relations between our countries," Mehmet Yolcu, chairman of the board of directors of FinExpertiza Turkey said.According to Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, China's position on the matter will depend on its relations with the United States. The worse China's relationship with the States goes, the better it is for the Russian SWIFT system. "The relations between China and the USA have been quite intense lately, but if the United States shows positive signs to China, then taking into account the volume of their trade ($500-600 billion) and China's trade volume with Russia ($100 billion as of 2018), China will demonstrate loyalty to the United States and will not connect to the Russian project," the expert said. SWIFT is an international interbank system for transmitting information and making payments. The system incorporates more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries of the world. After 9/11 attacks, the United States gained access to SWIFT network in order to track possible transactions between terrorist groups. Thus, US authorities have access to information related to any payment that goes through SWIFT. Russia launched its own version of SWIFT - SPFS - for domestic financial operations in December 2014. Also read: SWIFT refuses to cut Russia off
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian opposition MPs accept pension reform without a fight

Thu, 27/09/2018 - 15:35
On Wednesday, September 26, the Russian parliament, the State Duma, gave the second reading to the government bill on the pension reform. Officially, it goes about a move to improve the pension law. In fact, however, the authorities prefer not to talk about the "improvement" as it basically raises the retirement age in Russia. Three hundred and twenty-six out of 450 MPs supported the bill. Only 59 voted against it and one abstained. Here is some more food for thought in numbers. The ruling United Russia party counts 342 MPs. Obviously, their votes would be enough to approve the document. Communists come second - 42 MPs. LDPR is next with 39 MPs. Just Russia counts 23 deputies, two others are exempt from parliament factions. All the three opposition factions were originally opposed to raising the retirement age in Russia. However, 59 out of 104 opposition MPs voted in favor of the bill. Forty-five others did no find such an opportunity for themselves.Moreover, prior to the vote on the bill, the MPs approved nine of Putin's amendments to it. One of them lowers the retirement age for women from 63 to 60 years. After the vote, the leader of the United Russia faction, Sergei Neverov, noted with satisfaction that no one voted against president's amendments. "Presidential amendments were supported by representatives of all political factions in the State Duma: 385 voted for them, no one either abstained or voted against the amendments," the official said. "It is also very important that all factions without exception supported the ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention (415 votes for), and issues of medical examination of persons of pre-retirement age (419 votes for)," also noted Neverov.State Duma deputy from the Communist Party faction, Leonid Kalashnikov, explained the paradoxical behavior of his faction to Pravda.Ru. According to Communists, there is no paradox here - the faction cares about the people. "We believe that we can make people's lives easier, at least with the help of the draft law that we have here. We can not vote against it if these amendments suggest making people's lives easier. They do help in the draft. In general, we vote against the law about the pension reform. However, United Russia will adopt it anyway, so we vote to make people's lives easier, at least a little," Leonid Kalashnikov told Pravda.Ru. Also read: Putin: I don't like the idea of the pension reform
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian officials celebrate 60th anti-Russian sanction

Fri, 21/09/2018 - 17:07
Spokespeople for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation commented on the expansion of US sanctions against Russia because of the alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to Russian officials, there is already a round number of anti-Russian restrictions. "We continue watching the United States practicing sanctions against our country. It appears that it has turned into some kind of national fun there, because yesterday's anti-Russian measures have become the 60th since 2011," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. Ryabkov noted that Washington continues to introduce new sanctions because old ones bring no results. "We can also see the excitement that has engulfed American politicians, many of whom, being prisoners to their beliefs of their own "exceptionalism," hope that they need to take a little bit more effort before they can start dictating their conditions to Russia," Ryabkov said. "No one will succeed in this ever," the official continued. "Washington operators of the sanctions machine ought to get acquainted with the history of Russia, to stop the unnecessary fussing," he added. He also noted that the Americans "thoughtlessly rock global stability by escalating tensions in the Russian-American relations.""It's stupid to play with fire, because it can become dangerous," the deputy head of the department said. On September 29, Washington announced the imposition of sanctions on 27 physical and six legal entities from Russia, whom the US administration links with intelligence services and defense institutions. The sanctions were introduced as a response to Russia's alleged interference in the election of the American president in 2016.In particular, the United States imposed sanctions on PMC Wagner, the St. Petersburg Agency for Internet Research (known as the "troll factory"), Evgeny Prigozhin's companies Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. Prigozhin himself, who is dubbed as "Putin's chef," also appears on the sanctions list. The list also includes alleged employees of the "troll factory" and employees of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation accused of interfering in the 2017 presidential vote in the US: First Deputy Head of the GRU Vladimir Alekseev, Deputy Chief of the GRU Sergei Gizunov, GRU supervisor Igor Korobov, Deputy Chief of the GRU Igor Kostyukov.The list of sanctioned companies includes Defense Ministry's logistics company Oboronlogistics, an aviation plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, MiG aircraft-building corporation and Tupolev aviation design bureau. Also read: US sanctions to kill Russian banks and sovereign debt
Categories: Russia & CIS

Gubernatorial elections in Russia: Stop, cancel, start again

Wed, 19/09/2018 - 16:51
The results of gubernatorial elections in Russia's Primorsky region (Far East) have been canceled. However the situation remains too vague to hope for its coming resolution. The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said on Wednesday that the results of the gubernatorial election of the Primorsky region are to be abolished. According to the law, it is up to the regional election commission to make the decision. If the regional commission does not cancel the results of the vote, the Central Election Commission will do it instead, Pamfilova said. New elections will take place in three months, she added. For some reason, though, both regional Governor Andrei Tarasenko and Communist Party candidate Andrei Ischenko decided that this would be a third round of elections for them. The Russian legislation does not envisage such an option, though. At first, United Russia party candidate Andrei Tarasenko said that he would not participate in the new elections. Some time later, he changed his mind and announced at a meeting of his supporters that he would participate. When the meeting was over, he said that he would not take part in the elections. At the same time, a rumor started saying that Tarasenko was stepping down as acting governor. Putin's spokesman stated that the rumour was not true because acting governor can be appointed by president's decree. Communist Party candidate Andrey Ischenko said that it was absurd to abolish the elections because he had won the vote. According to the information from the election committee of the Primorsky region and the CEC, Tarasenko came only 1.5 percent ahead of Ishchenko. Communists say that the margin of 1.5 percent was made possible as a result of falsifications, which automatically makes  Ishchenko the winner. The communist candidate said that he was ready to participate in the new elections. For the time being, it remains unknown whether it goes about a new election and new candidates, or a third round that would come contrary to the Russian legislation. The regional election commission will make an announcement on September 20. Anton KulikovPravda.RuRead article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian gubernatorial elections: Solid winner loses vote overnight

Mon, 17/09/2018 - 16:19
The second round of gubernatorial elections in Russia's Primorsky Krai (the Far East) will go down in history of Russia's political life. During the elections of the governor of the Primorsky region, one of the candidates was winning the vote by a significant margin. All of a sudden, it turned out that the winner of the race has lost the election. The advantage of Communist candidate Andrei Ishchenko over acting governor Andrei Tarasenko was not striking, but it was larger than the number of uncounted ballots. In other words, if all the uncounted ballots had been added to Tarasenko's favor, Ishchenko would have still remained the winner. However, the announcement from the Central Electoral Commission made after counting 99.03% of the ballots said that acting governor Andrei Tarasenko won the election having left his rival only 0.5 percent behind. The head of the CEC, Ella Pamfilova, stated in the morning that her department would not rush to finalise the results of the elections in Primorsky Krai. If any violation are found, the results of the second round of the vote are likely to be canceled, she said, urging the supporters of the two candidates to file complaints.The candidates themselves accuse each other of fraud and falsificationы. For example, representatives of regional authorities claim that the team of communist candidate Andrei Ishchenko  delayed the entry of disadvantageous ballots into the electronic GAS "Vybory" system to overblow  a scandal afterwards. Ischenko's supporters claim that his opponent was "given" several tens of thousands of votes.At first, Andrei Ishchenko called to put up tents and threatened to go on a hunger strike. He changed his mind later after he talked to Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian Communist Party.  Instead, Ishchenko invited his supporters to come to the building of the administration of the Primorsky region every day at 6:00 p.m. and stay there till late at night. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggested his own solution to the problem. "Gubernatorial  elections in Russia are absolutely unnecessary and nerve-racking. There is no real competition, because candidates of one and the same party take all posts anyway. It is the president who should directly appoint the governors, because they represent the executive power. However, the head of state can appoint representatives of different parties as governors. If a representative of the pro-government party fails, he then appoints a representative of the parliamentary opposition. This would preserve governance and let the steam out," Zhirinovsky wrote on his social media page. Gubernatorial elections were abolished in Russia from 2004 till 2012, when governors were approved by legislative assemblies on the basis of proposals from the president. Afterwards, gubernatorial elections were reinstated. Gubernatorial elections will be held in Russia in Khakassia, Khabarovsk and Vladimir regions on September 23. One can hardly imagine a situation that can eclipse the one in the Primorsky region. Anton KulikovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia to abandon the US dollar at common people's expense

Fri, 14/09/2018 - 16:08
Andrei Kostin, the head of VTB Bank, shared his plans for the future of foreign currency in the Russian Federation. During the Eastern Economic Forum, Kostin, who is ranked one of Russia's most prominent bankers, suggested legal addresses of Russia's largest holding companies should be transferred under Russia's jurisdiction. According to him, foreign registrations of Russian legal entities makes the fulfilment of subsequent tasks more complicated. Kostin pointed out the need to place Eurobonds on Russian platforms and abandon the primary depository in the form of Euroclear. Many experts believe that such suggestions would take Russia towards self-isolation.The head of VTB also pointed out the need for all participants of the stock market to adhere to "unified rules." Some assumed in Russia that Mr. Kostin thus wanted to punish the Americans for the sanctions that they had imposed on him. In a nutshell, Andrei Kostin offered President Putin a plan to refuse from the US dollar. The plan is not very original: Kostin suggests making Russia an outcast country, in which dollar settlements would be excluded. Iran and Venezuela had taken such measures for their economies some time ago, but neither Iran nor Venezuela have showed an economic breakthrough yet. Quite on the contrary, the two nations suffer from declining national currencies and a plethora of restrictions. Some suggested Mr. Kostin could go to Venezuela or Iran to learn a few lessons there. Earlier, Andrei Kostin caused quite a stir in Russia, when he said that Russian citizens' dollar deposits could be converted at market value into rubles.Experts were more restrained in their assessment of Kostin's suggestion. Maksim Shein, the chief investment strategist of BCS, told Pravda.Ru that it makes no difference what currency banks choose to return deposits to clients - the most important thing is to have foreign currency deposits converted into rubles at market value.  The problem of Andrei Kostin's statements and reactions to them is about the radical presentation of such information. It is clear to all in Russia that the national market will grow increasingly national and ruble-oriented against the backdrop of sanctions and Russia's course to economic sovereignty. Mr. Kostin tries to hold common people accountable for the economic crisis in the country. Many people in today's Russia still remember the attitude to foreign currency in the USSR. However, the Soviet Union used to have a developed social system. All the recent moves of the Russian authorities in relation to the retirement age indicate that Russia is taking a sharp liberal turn in economy. Currency restrictions do not fit into liberal reforms. Clearly, Russian banks need to develop and grow under the conditions of economic and financial restrictions, especially when President Putin talks about the need for a major economic breakthrough. The people, however, are not happy about the fact that the breakthrough is going to be made at their expense. This gives rise to panic and scathing comments about Mr. Kostin and his suggestions. It is wort mentioning that the amount of transactions signed within the scope of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok totalled nearly three trillion rubles. Perhaps it is too early to put a cross on the Russian economy and expect dark years to come. Also read: Russian government prepares to get rid of US dollar in economy
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian 'spies' Petrov and Boshirov say they work in fitness industry

Thu, 13/09/2018 - 14:58
The main event of September 13 in Russia is the interview, which Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov gave to RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. The British authorities accused these two men of involvement in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and referred to them as officers of the Russian military intelligence, GRU. First off, the two men acknowledged in the interview that those were their real names. "From the very beginning, we wanted to come to London and have fun there, it was not a business trip. Our friends have long recommended we should go to visit this wonderful town of Salisbury. We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it, because traffic in England was paralysed on March 2 and 3," Petrov said. In Salisbury, they also wanted to see the town's cathedral, which is famous for its spire. Petrov and Boshirov acknowledged that they could have passed by Sergei Skripal's home, although they did not know where it was located. The two men also said that they did not bring any poisonous substances or Nina Ricci perfumes with them. "Isn't it silly for two normal lads to bring women's perfume along? When you go through customs control, they check all your belongings. If we had had something, they would have had questions as to why a man would have women's perfume in his luggage," Boshirov said.Boshirov and Petrov responded negatively to the question of their work for the Russian military intelligence, which is commonly referred to GRU, although its official name was changed several years ago. The men said that they work in the industry of fitness and sports nutrition. They confirmed that they had been to Switzerland several times as well, but mostly for tourism. The men said that their lived changed completely after their photos and videos were published in world media. "We can't go out, we are scared, we are scared for our lives, for our loved ones, for those people who know us," said Ruslan Boshirov. It is worthy of note that Petrov and Boshirov gave an interview to RT the day after President Putin appealed to them to come out to media representatives. Also read: Putin: We know who Skripal poisoners are
Categories: Russia & CIS

Chief of Russian National Guards threatens to make juicy meat chop out of Aleksei Navalny

Tue, 11/09/2018 - 15:29
Viktor Zolotov, the chief of the Russian National Guards (Federal National Guard Troops Service), published a video address to opposition activist Alexei Navalny. In his address, Zolotov called Navalny out in a duel and promised to make a "juicy meat chop" out of him. The video comes as Zolotov's reaction to the recent investigation conducted by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) into the procurement of foodstuffs for the Russian National Guards at inflated prices."With respect to me, you had insulting, slanderous reflections, and it's not customary for army officers to forgive that," Zolotov said in the video message posted on the YouTube channel of the Russian National Guards on September 11. "From time immemorial, the scoundrel would be punched in the face and summoned to a duel," he added. "Mr. Navalny, no one stops us from returning at least part of those traditions, I mean demanding satisfaction, I simply challenge you to a duel - to a ring, tatami, you name it, where I promise to make a fine, juicy meat chop out of you," Viktor Zolotov said sitting in front of the camera. It is worthy of note that Zolotov had earlier served as a security guard for President Putin. Zolotov also promised to trample on Navalny and use him as a door mat. "If, Mr. Navalny, you ever again speak in an insulting or slanderous tone about me or my family members, I promise you that before I step over you and use you as a door mat, I will arrange a show for the entire staff of the National Guards," said Zolotov.It is worthy of note that Viktor Zolotov challenged Navalny at a time when the latter is serving his 30-day arrest in Moscow and has no way to respond.In his video address, the director of the Russian National Guards recalled another investigation conducted by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund  - about the property of Zolotov's family. The report, published in 2016, evaluated Viktor Zolotov's property at 663 million rubles."I'm not a poor man indeed. Unlike you, when you were just learning to sit down on a pot, I had served in the army, worked at a factory production, was, by the way, an outstanding communist worker, and later engaged in business activities," the military man said. Earlier, officials at the Russian Guards called Navalny's investigation of the purchase of food products for the agency "falsified and provocative." "The deliveries of food and the provision of food services for the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation is carried out by an organisation appointed by the government of the Russian Federation in accordance with the current legislation," Zolotov said.We would like to note here that Alexei Navalny's team continues investigating into a variety of "corruption schemes", while all of those investigations have a zero degree of effectiveness. Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund had conducted investigations into "cases" of Dmitry Medvedev, Yuri Kovalchuk, Igor Shuvalov, Igor Sechin, Vyacheslav Volodin, Alisher Usmanov and others. Many of them sued Navalny and won the trials. Mr. Zolotov could follow in their footsteps and do the same. It appears that someone at the top let Alexei Navalny become such a principled oppositionist to release the steam of people's discontent. Navalny himself profits from creating his image of a person, who unmasks others. In fact, however, he is a competent narrator of "scary" stories, a populariser, who wants to be the leader of Russia's opposition, if not president. Many in Russia found Viktor Zolotov's address to Navalny ridiculous. "We have no doubt about the wonderful physical shape of Mr. Zolotov, but we do have doubt of whether he is a man of a high intellectual level," bloggers write on social media. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia launches largest Vostok 2018 war games to get ready for global war after 2020

Tue, 11/09/2018 - 12:55
Russia launched its largest military exercises in modern history in the morning of September 11. The exercises, called Vostok 2018 (East 2018) involve about 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, more than 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and about a hundred warships.The manoeuvres that will last through September 17 are held to practice massive air strikes, interception of cruise missiles, landing missions of sea and airborne assault forces, as well as actions of mobile groups in the deep rear of the enemy under the conditions that would be as close to combat conditions as possible, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said. Russia has not held such military exercises since 1981, when the USSR conducted Zapad-81 manoeuvres. Vostok 2018 war games are held under the status of an international event. They involve the troops of the Eastern and Central Military Districts, forces of the Northern Fleet, all formations and military units of the Airborne Forces, long and military transport aircraft. Chinese and Mongolian armed forces will join the war games at a certain stage of their development. The most dynamic part of the war games will unfold on one of the largest range grounds of the Transbaikal region - Tsugol. More than 7,000 units of military hardware and special equipment, about 250 aircraft and helicopters have been delivered to the site. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation tried to make the task for participants as much complicated as possible - they will have to act in the rapidly changing environment and take prompt and non-standard decisions. In particular, the war games will see the Russian military practice mobile defense and operations to destroy enemy with the use of artillery fire and military aircraft. Robotic equipment  and unmanned aerial vehicles are to be used in the operations as well. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, almost all models of military hardware and weapons available in the arsenal of the Russian army will take part in Vostok 2018 drills, including Iskander missile systems, upgraded T-72, T-90 and T-80BVM tanks. Su-34 bombers and Su-35 multipurpose fighters will protect ground forces from the air. Mi-28 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, Tu-95MS strategic bombers, as well as long-range Tu-22M3 missile carriers. Su-24 bombers, Su-25 interceptors and Su-25 interceptors from the Chelyabinsk region, Perm and Krasnoyarsk territories were delivered to the range ground. Vostok 2018 war games will be held with the use of the combat experience that Russian forces have gained in Syria. The naval part of the manoeuvres involves forces of Pacific Northern Fleets of the Russian Federation - about 80 ships and supply vessels. In the waters of the Sea of Okhotsk and in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, Russian warships will show resistance to air attacks, strike retaliatory blows on groups of ships and launch Caliber missiles.Vostok-2018 war games are held on nine range grounds, in the waters of the Bering Sea and in the Sea of Okhotsk, in Avachinsky and Kronotsky bays. These are two-way manoeuvres with two opposing groups participating: the Central Military District and the Northern Fleet "fight against"  the troops of the Eastern Military District and the Pacific Fleet. NATO considers these exercises as preparations for a large-scale conflict Vostok 2018 war games have caused serious concern for the United States and its NATO allies in Europe, especially the Baltic countries and Poland. NATO officials said that Vostok 2018 war games demonstrate "Russia's emphasis on the work to practice participation in a large-scale conflict."Le Nouvel Observateur quoted French military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, who said making references to the Russian General Staff that a major war in the world would unfold after 2020. It would be either a global war or a series of major regional conflicts, in which the United States and its allies would be Russia's enemy, the expert added. Russia holds the international war games with the participation of Chinese and Mongolian troops against the backdrop of growing tensions with Western countries, the Ukrainian crisis, the conflict in Syria and countless accusations of Russia's interference in internal affairs of Western countries. In 1981, the USSR held Zapad 81 exercises that mobilised between 100,000 and 150,000 troops of the Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe. Zapad 81 were the largest manoeuvres ever organised in the Soviet era. Servicemen from the People's Republic of China have never taken part in Russia's strategic military exercises. For Vostok 2018 war games, China will send about 3,000 troops, as well as aircraft and helicopters of the People's Liberation Army of China.Since 2003, Russia and China have held about 30 military exercises, but none of them have targeted Russia's strategic efforts to ensure security. The PLA takes part in Vostok 2018 war games not only for integrated, anti-terrorist exercises with the police, but also for strategic exercises - a goal that the Chinese had set for themselves long ago, senior fellow at the European Council for International Relations (ECFR), Gustav Gressel told DW, adding that the Chinese military wanted to learn the experience that Russia had gained in Syria. Kremlin officials say that Russia is holding such large-scale war games because of the need to maintain Russia's defensive capability in the current international situation, which can often be very aggressive and unfriendly. Spokespeople for the Defence Ministry of China stated that the PLA takes part in Vostok 2018 war games to develop the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership and further strengthen the ability to jointly respond to various security threats.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian elections: Voter apathy and mistrust

Mon, 10/09/2018 - 13:21
The people of Russia have probably lost hope for an opportunity to show influence on the fate of their country, even though the Constitution of the Russian Federation gives such powers to the people. Alas, the elections held in Russia on September 9 prove this thesis. Let's consider the most significant expression of people's power at the elections - the turnout. In many regions of the country, the turnout was "sadly low" and could barely catch up with the results of the previous similar elections. It appeared, though, that the turnout would be high, especially in light of the recent decisions that the government and the parliament have made with regard to the pension reform in Russia. It was believed that many voters would come to the elections to vote against some candidates and cast their votes in favour of others. However, the main outcome of the September 9 elections in Russia was voter apathy and mistrust. Shortly before the vote, millions in Russia signed petitions in protest to the initiative of the government to raise the retirement age. However, all those petitions went straight into the bin, parties supported the reform and then everyone could watch Putin's weak and inconclusive speech on TV. On September 9, about 60-70 percent of the Russian population simply decided not to execute their civil duty and preferred to ignore the vote. As Mark Twain once said, "if voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it." According to many experts, the election campaign of 2018 has set a record since 2013 in terms of the withdrawal of party lists from elections to regional parliaments and deputies. Eight lists had been withdrawn by September 2. The election struggle was not for votes, but for a possibility to get into the right lists.For example, the lists of Yabloko party were withdrawn from the elections to  regional parliaments in the Yaroslavl Region, the lists of Rodina party - in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Communists of Russia - in Kalmykia, the Party for Justice - in Yakutia and Great Fatherland Party - in the Nenets Autonomous region.As for individual candidates, the story is quite sad here too as all prominent candidates who posed competition to authorities were withdrawn from lists as well. For example, Maxim Suraykin, the head of Communists of Russia party, was removed from the election of the mayor of Moscow. Another candidate, Mikhail Balakin, was forced to defend his right to run at court.One way or another, but the elections have come to an end, and their final results are to be announced within the coming days. One can say for sure that the voting went without scandals and mass violations but under the condition of voter apathy. What does the Kremlin get after the September 9 elections? The Kremlin gets the candidates elected by only a third of Russia's population to continue to "express the will of the people" (under the Constitution) by raising taxes, managing the social sector in regions and implementing the pension reform. Meanwhile, Western publications dream about the day, when Russia falls into Ukraine's abyss of chaos as a result of a coup, in which active minority rises to topple the regime, while passive majority does not interfere. Russia's most recent elections, alas, have shown the growth in the share of passive majority that was supposed to rule the country through elections, but instead stopped trying and ceased to believe in such an opportunity. Most importantly and unfortunately, this is not just a signal or a message - this is the alarm. The political situation in Russia grows more critical while staying outwardly calm. On September 9, the Russians went to the polls to elect MPs, governors (in 22 regions), five mayors, including the mayor of Moscow. Sixteen regions held elections to regional parliaments, while campaigns to municipal legislative assemblies were held in several cities. All in all, the elections were held in 80 Russian regions.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin loses everything he has

Thu, 30/08/2018 - 18:21
President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have played the game of bad cop and good cop in their efforts to explain the essence of the pension reform to the people of Russia. Putin's behaviour in relation to the prime minister looks unethical, just as it looks wrong in relation to his electors. It appears that Putin may eventually lose control of the patriotic idea - the only idea that still helps him stay in his office. After the president's televised address to the nation on August 29, it became clear that it was Putin who initiated the pension reform in Russia. This is evidenced by his harsh affirmation about the lack of alternatives to the reform. Until recently, however, Putin tried to distance himself from his government, which he had allegedly commissioned to develop and implement the unpopular reform. As a result, Medvedev failed to handle the psychological burden and disappeared from the public eye for a while. When he reappeared in front of the cameras, one could see him as a tired and sick person.Putin is being unethical towards his voters as well. Putin's voter is commonly known in Russia as "vatnik", who values Putin's achievements in building the Russian world, limiting the influence of American globalism and oligarchic structures.During the above-mentioned speech, Putin referred to experts twice without naming them. Apparently, it goes about Alexei Kudrin, experts of the Higher School of Economics - liberal, pro-Western people, whom Putin's voters despise. Thus, Putin has shown disrespect to his electors in a hope that people are ignorant and they do not need to know any names. Addressing the nation with his speech, Putin said: "Even if we sell all buildings of the Pension Fund, the money will be enough only for a few months. And then what?" However, we understand that it goes about all the knick-knacks, apartments and plots of land that our fat officials, MPs and oligarchs have. Putin clearly gave it to understand that he would never rip epaulettes off their shoulders. As a matter of fact, we do not understand now what makes Putin different from late Boris Yeltsin, who also entrusted everything to "Chicago boys" and plunged the country into chaos. We can see Putin threatening us now that the system will not have money for pensions in six or seven years if everything remains the same. The first reason for the looming crisis, as Putin says, is demography. "In 2005, the ratio of working citizens, who replenish the Pension Fund regularly, and citizens receiving old-age insurance pensions, is nearly 1.7 to one, but in 2019,  it will be 1.2 to one," Putin said noting that life expectancy in Russia had increased by eight years.The trend is the same in Western countries. Robots continue to replace humans depriving them of jobs, but the pension system in the West is far from collapsing. In Western countries, the pension fund gets replenished through the growth in people's wages and, accordingly, deductions to the budget. The most surprising thing is that such a system works identically in Russia too, although officials tend to conceal it in order to speculate on the topic of who feeds whom. Thus, the average Russian citizen during his work service of 20 years and an average salary of 40,000 rubles gives away about 2.4 million rubles to the Pension Fund. Russian male pensioners live for an average of eight years, during which they receive back only 1.600 million, and the state keeps the remaining 800,000 rubles in the budget. No one knows what that money goes for, although it is obvious that the state wants to take and spend even more. It is worthy of note that when speaking about the growth, Putin refers to Russia during the 1990s. Why not compare indicators of the year 2018 to 2014, when the West started imposing sanctions on Russia one after another, and the Russian economy started rolling down the hill?Putin dismisses all alternative proposals for financing the Pension Fund. He did not mention the amendment on the progressive scale of taxation, although there was such a proposal made at the hearings in the State Duma on August 21. That money could be used to compensate entrepreneurs for their contributions to the Pension Fund to support people of pre-retirement age.Putin does not want to attract oil revenues to finance the Pension Fund either. According to him, this money will not be enough to pay pensions for as little as two months. Yet, oil revenues constitute a supplementary, rather than the only source of income for the Pension Fund. "What if oil prices go down?" Putin says. Indeed, the government would then need to find a way to increase tax collection from other sources.For comparison, the deficit of the Pension Fund in 2018 will amount to 257 billion rubles, while the net outflow of capital in 2017 was 31.3 billion dollars, which is about 1 trillion 966 billion rubles. The National Welfare Fund holds 4 trillion 844 billion rubles. Gazprom's profit is evaluated at 997 billion rubles. The profit of Russia's largest state-run bank, Sberbank, is 542 billion rubles. The Russian shadow economy is evaluated at 33.6 trillion rubles, or 39 percent of GDP, said business ombudsman Boris Titov.Therefore, all of the measures that Putin voiced in his speech look superficial. We have an impression that all of the "gifts" that Putin mentioned in his speech had been included in the reform in advance. Obviously, the inflation will eat up the promised addition of 1,000 rubles per year. Putin speaks about a pension of 20,000 rubles by 2024, whereas in Europe, pensions make up 40 percent of what a people get during their work service. One can only guess why Putin takes such a position. Probably, this is due to the overwhelming external pressure. If Putin had tried to explain that, people would have probably understood. Instead, they saw their president laying the burden of responsibility for the future of the country on the population. Putin does not feel guilty for the fact that Russia has not been able to amass enough money during the 2000s to finance social programs and build an independent financial system. He does not feel guilty for showing insufficient resistance to the shadow economy and corruption. Instead, he was trying to come to terms with oligarchs. An agreement with them has turned out to be more important for him than an agreement with the people.Putin's voters want a strong social state that would successfully support the foreign policy of the Kremlin from the inside. The living standard in Russia has been decreasing for the last five years, and Putin wants his electors to pedal back. Putin's rating may eventually collapse, and the president will lose control of the idea of patriotism that he has been talking about for so long. People will feel humiliated and betrayed when they realise that their president lied to them. Lyuba Lulko (Stepushova)Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin about the pension reform in Russia: In detail

Wed, 29/08/2018 - 12:41
On August 29, President Vladimir Putin appeared in a televised address to the nation regarding changes in the pension legislation. His speech lasted for about 35 minutes.Putin stressed that the main objective of the pension reform is to ensure stability of the pension system for years to come.The president suggested a number of measures that would make it possible to mitigate the reform. The retirement age for women should be lowered from 63 to 60 years. Mothers of many children will have the right to early retirement."If a woman has three children, she will be able to retire three years ahead of schedule, if she has four children - four years earlier. For women who have five or more children, everything should remain as it is now - they will be able to to retire at 50," said the president.For citizens who were to retire under the old legislation in the next two years, a special privilege will be introduced - the right to receive a pension six months before the new retirement age.The state will provide additional guarantees that will protect interests of older citizens on the labor market."During the transition period, the pre-retirement age shall be the period of five years before retirement. A whole package of measures is required here. For example, one needs to establish administrative and even criminal liability for employers for dismissing workers of pre-retirement age, as well as for refusal to hire citizens for age reasons," the president said. For citizens of pre-retirement age, a special program for professional development will appear. The program will be financed from the federal budget. The amount of unemployment allowance for citizens of pre-retirement age will be increased twice:  from today's 4,900 rubles to 11,280 rubles from January 1, 2019. The payment period will be one year.For indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, the current conditions for the appointment of pensions shall be preserved unchanged. Unemployed pensioners living in the countryside will receive a 25 percent supplement to their pensions. The length of service that entitles one to early retirement will be reduced by three years: for women  - to 37 years, and for men - to 42 years. All federal benefits effective as of December 31, 2018 shall be preserved until the reform of the pension system is completed.During his speech, Putin noted that during the 2020s Russia will face a demographic crisis caused by the low birth rate that the nation experienced during the 1990s."Today, this very small generation of those born during the 1990s is entering the working age. This will increase the burden on the pension system even more, because it is built mainly on the principle of solidarity," the head of state said.According to Putin, if one shows indecision now, both the stability of the society and the security of the country will be jeopardized. "We must develop, we must overcome poverty and ensure decent life for people of the older generation - both today's and future pensioners," the president added.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia's Army-2018 Military Forum: New weapons, new horizons, new records

Tue, 28/08/2018 - 12:40
Twenty-six thousand exhibits and 30 signed contracts for the supply of military equipment - this is a brief summary of Army-2018 annual military-technical arms show that was held near Moscow in Patriot Park. Representatives of more than 100 countries came to take part in the arms show this year. Russia's Defense Ministry signed a contract to purchase a large batch of new T-14 tanks and T-15 armored combat vehicles on the universal Armata platform. The Russian Armed Forces will receive 132 units of equipment before 2021. The first nine tanks are to be supplied already this year. During the forum, a number of innovative weapons were showcased together with well-known models. For example, it is 2C38 Derivation-Air Defense anti-aircraft artillery complex. The system has a 57-millimeter gun with a rate of 120 rounds per minute. Another novelty is the wheeled armored platform Boomerang, designed for the transportation of military personnel, as well as for combat missions targeting enemy infantry, armored personnel carriers and even tanks.The organizers of the forum held large-scale demonstrations to let everyone see the new weapons in action. Dozens of design bureaus and shipbuilding companies presented their developments at the forum as well: warships, submarines, weapons and radar systems. It was said that the Russian Navy would soon receive18 frigates of project 22350 and 36 corvettes of project 22380. These ships with a displacement of 4,500 tons are 135 meters long and 15 meters wide. They develop the speed of up to 29 knots, have the navigation range of up to 4,500 miles and endurance of up to 30 days.For the first time, the forum demonstrated an unmanned underwater vehicle, the tests of which are to start in November or December of this year. The underwater drone will be used to protect ports, bridges, naval bases and ships from saboteurs.The Krylov State Research Center showed the concept of a light multipurpose aircraft carrier Storm-KM with a displacement from 37 to 44 thousand tons. The ship can take on board about 50 aircraft - heavy Su-33 fighters, light MiG-29K, long-range radar patrol aircraft and multi-purpose helicopters Ka-27. The ship is powered with a 110,000 hp gas turbine. The construction of the  exhaust system makes the vessel less noticeable.It was said during the forum that Russia's fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft would be upgraded further to receive artificial intelligence. The control system and sighting equipment will be upgraded to the level of automatic combat use. The Su-57 will also be equipped with an onboard defense complex that includes new frequencies and operating modes.For the time being, Russian Air Force pilots operate ten such aircraft - fighters undergo a series of military tests in the air and on the ground. Russia also develops a new vertical take-off and landing aircraft for aircraft carriers. The implementation period of the project up to ten years. The project is included in the state armament program and comes as a continuation of the Soviet development - the Yak-38 aircraft.It is worthy of note that the contracts signed within the scope of Army 2018 forum are evaluated at over 130 billion rubles, which is three times as much as last year.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia will export titanium and rocket engines to USA no matter what

Thu, 23/08/2018 - 12:41
Russia intends to continue exporting aeronautical titanium and rocket engines to the United States despite the crisis in relations between the two countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters. "We firmly believe that we must not cause damage to ourselves. Ideas to cut the supplies of rocket engines for the US space program or aeronautical titanium that is produced at a joint venture with Boeing, or other positions of our exports to the US should not be considered as options here," Ryabkov said. According to him, the decision to stop exporting rocket engines and aeronautical titanium to the United States would be equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot and causing damage to one's own economic operators.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin calls new sanctions 'counterproductive'. Russia to bid farewell to US dollar

Wed, 22/08/2018 - 17:01
Russian President Vladimir Putin considers new US sanctions counterproductive and meaningless actions."Regarding the sanctions, these actions are counterproductive and meaningless, especially against a country like Russia," Putin said at a press conference after talks with the President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.Putin also said that he was still hopeful that the United States would some day realize how futile this policy is. On August 21 it became known that the US imposed sanctions against a number of Russian citizens and companies because of their alleged cyber-activity and cooperation with the DPRK.Russia may switch to national currencies in settlements with other countries in order to minimize the effect of US sanctions, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov said. According to him, Moscow is preparing a whole package of retaliatory measures in response to Washington's economic policy. The minister also said that the restrictions have made Russia less dependent on the international financial system. Financial sanctions against Russia may affect Russia's exports to third countries. Therefore, Russia may abjure the US dollar in transactions with other countries, Denis Manturov added. In turn, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugaev, said that the US currency was unreliable. "It is an open secret that the dollar is an unreliable currency today, to say the least, especially within the framework of settlements in the field of military-technical cooperation. That said, we already find ways to overcome negative consequences today," Shugaev said. Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov expressed a similar opinion earlier. According to him, financial restrictions "will backfire on the Americans." It is worthy of note that Turkey also expresses a wish to abandon the US dollar and switch to national currencies. For Turkey, such cooperation can be possible with Russia, China, Iran and Ukraine. "If European countries also want to get rid of the shackles of the dollar, Ankara is ready to switch to national currency settlements with them too," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia gives up on helicopter carriers, Armata tanks and Su-57 jets

Tue, 21/08/2018 - 13:03
On August 20, Russia's Minister for Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, said that Russia would not be building its own helicopter carriers. However, in June of this year, deputy commander-in-chief of the Navy for armament, Vice-Admiral Viktor Bursuk, said that Russian helicopter carriers would be built after 2020. "We will have these ships, they are included in the ship-building program, and they will be built during the second stage of the implementation of the program - after 2020," Bursuk said a few months ago. Even earlier, Russian ship-builders unveiled a model of the Russian helicopter carrying vessel. The project was called "Priboi." After the presentation, it was reported that Russia would build two of such vessels for the price of 40 billion rubles each. The topic of Mistral helicopter carriers has been under debate since the time when Russia signed the relevant contract with France in 2011. In 2015, France terminated the deal because of the crisis in Ukraine, even though two vessels had been built by that time. Russian navy men were undergoing training on one of them. In the long run, the French managed to sell those two astral vessels to Egypt. Why is Russia having so much hassle because of helicopter carriers? Director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Ivan Konovalov, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Mistral ships are referred to as "the ship of the projection of power" in France. In other words, these ships are designed for military operations in remote areas far from homeland. "For France, this is still essential, because France has a huge zone of influence in Africa, its former colonies. French troops travel to Africa on a regular basis, but why would Russia need this class of vessels?" the expert wondered. "Russian concluded the deal for those two Mistral ships for political reasons in the first place. First of all, Moscow wanted the world to see that Russia was ready for large-scale cooperation in defense, to conclude multibillion-dollar contracts with NATO countries. Secondly, then president of France Nicolas Sarkozy positioned himself as a great friend of Russia. In 2008, he contributed to the peace process in the Caucasus. Russia ended the conflict with Georgia without any significant political losses largely owing to France," Ivan Konovalov said.In general, one can see that Russia has big doubts about the need to build helicopter carriers for its navy. The project is expensive, plus one does not know whether the Russian Navy needs vessels of this class. However, officials make contradictory statements on the subject, so it would be incorrect to simply shelve the project. It is worthy of note that Russia already has doubts about the need in state-of-the-art Armata tanks and Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It appears that the helicopter carrier project will lose the competition. Oleg ArtyukovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Default more likely to hit American, rather than Russian economy

Fri, 17/08/2018 - 14:52
Russia experienced default on August 17, 1998. Today, 20 years after those events, the economic situation in Russia does not seem stable to many. As the ruble declines in value against the dollar and the euro, many believe that another default is likely to occur. However, experts say that such pessimistic forecasts are at least premature. During the late 1990s, the Russian economy had no mechanisms to protect itself from external negative factors. The crisis that started in Asia struck Russia easily. Economically, Russia was lying in ruins. The Soviet industrial complex was destroyed, and Russia's trade balance depended on oil almost entirely - more than 90 percent. During those years, Russia was running the program of short-term state liabilities known as the "GKO pyramid." It was built on the principle of a financial pyramid. Needless to say that all pyramids collapse sooner or later. In the GKO pyramid, however, the founder was the state. When the GKO system collapsed, it struck a powerful blow on the national economy. Currently, the economic situation in Russia differs a lot from that during the 1990s. First all, the share of materials and energy sectors is about 50 percent. The rest falls on the agrarian complex, chemical and military industries, machine building and a number of other strategic manufacturing industries.Secondly, despite, or even owing to such a factor of permanent external pressure as sanctions, the Russian economic system constantly develops new protective mechanisms. To crown it all, there is nothing in today's Russia that would be reminiscent to the GKO system. There are sanctions, external pressure and fluctuations in the Russian national currency. Economists, however, still give optimistic forecasts.For example, Yevgeny Yasin, who served as the minister for economy in 1993-97, believes that the war of sanctions with the USA would not cause a major economic crisis, although it would hinder development and create certain difficulties. Oleg Safonov, manager of BKS Ultima, is much more positive in his forecasts. In particular, he believes that the Russian economy does not look vulnerable today. "Despite the economic sanctions, Russia can keep calm in the foreseeable future. Russia has accumulated certain resources and restructured external debts. Plus, oil prices remain quite high. New sanctions will affect the economy, of course, but not too much," he said. US experts share a different opinion on the subject, though. Vladimir Rozhankovsky, an investment analyst with Global FX, believes that Western media outlets actively work to create a negative image of Russia in every way possible. "The scenario of 1998 is not going to repeat in Russia. Back in 1998, Asia failed to cope with enormous amounts of money. These days, however, it is developing countries that send their money to the USA. There are more chances for the US economy to collapse," the expert said. Economist Vladislav Zhukovsky does not share general optimism. "Default in Russia is inevitable. It will take place if oil prices decline. Russia receives 68 percent of its income from exporting oil and natural gas," he believes. Sergei Dubinin, the former head of the Bank of Russia, does not agree with the economist.  "The structure of the Russian economy today has nothing in common with that of the late 1990s. Today, the Russian Federation does not have a burden of a public debt, especially short-term, domestic debt. The entire Russian public debt, including the external one, is balanced by currencies. In addition, the floating exchange rate gives no promises to pay the debt at a fixed rate. The banking system is relatively stable, so default is not threatened Russia in any way." Photo credits: Fotodom.ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia starts Star Wars first. USA concerned and puzzled

Wed, 15/08/2018 - 15:41
The behavior of the Russian inspector satellite, which was launched in the autumn of 2017, puzzles military officials in the United States. Yleem D.S. Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, said that the behavior of the satellite in orbit raised a number of questions.Inspector satellites are the spacecraft that maneuver in orbit and interact with other satellites. According to Poblete, the Russian spacecraft does not correspond to the functions that the Russian side had announced before. The satellite, the official added, does not execute its functions, but performs some other jobs, the details of which puzzle US specialists. The US is concerned about the satellite's behavior, as well as about Russia's developments in the field of anti-space defense systems. De facto, Yleem Poblete accused Russia of deploying weapons in space. Andrei Manoilo, professor at the Moscow State University, believes that the remarks from the US official about the behavior of the Russian satellite match the general rhetoric and come in line with Washington's foreign policy. Space is a strategic direction, where one can take leading positions. The United States would like to force Russia into another arms race similar to the one we had in the 1980s as any activity to intensify the confrontation with the United States will definitely become a burden that Russia will not be able to carry, Manoilo said. This is the reason why the US considers the use of outer space for military purposes.In addition, it is profitable for US officials to intimidate the American population with the help of the "Russian threat" because the US defense complex is currently waiting for new orders to come. It is the remarks from various low-rank American officials, like Poblete, that trigger the process to lobby military spending in the United States, the expert believes.To date, international law provides an opportunity to deploy standard arms systems in space. Countries use this opportunity for their own interests. In fact, a cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead is practically no different than other types of military missiles that carry standard weapons, the professor said. Ivan Moiseyev, the head of the Institute of Space Policy, explained that the above-mentioned inspector satellite examined near-Earth spacecraft Cosmos-2519, which was deployed in space simultaneously with the inspector satellite. Of course, it makes no sense to deny that the spacecraft is capable of carrying out combat missions, the expert added.As a result, NORAD scientists announced the restart of the Russian program known as SOI (Strategic Defense Initiative). British specialist in space technology, Robert Christy, noted that the Cosmos-2499 had its predecessors, because Russia launched three communication satellites on December 23, 2013.The USA expresses its concerned about the situation in near-Earth space, even though it was Washington that approved the National Space Policy in 2007 declaring the right to partially extend sovereignty to outer space."Thus, even if Russia establishes military control over space with the help of interceptor satellites, the US does not lag behind her.
Categories: Russia & CIS

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