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Default more likely to hit American, rather than Russian economy

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:

Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:52:00 +0300

Why Russia continues investing in US public debt

Spokespeople for the US Treasury said that Russia has not changed its share in the US public debt since June. Russia owns a $15 billion portfolio of the US public debt. Russia's investment has dropped to a minimum level since 2007. The largest numbers were reported in 2010, when the Russian government invested $176 billion dollars in the state debt of the United States of America.Russia is not on the list of 31 countries that hold most of US bonds. However, Russia stopped decreasing its share in the first month of the summer. For comparison, Russia disposed of US securities worth $80 billion during the period from March to May.From March 2017 to March 2018, Russia's investments in US Treasuries did not fall below $100 billion. The record high was reported in October 2010, when Russia owned US government securities worth $176.3 billion and was ranked the sixth in the world on this indicator. In the event the US Congress prohibits US citizens from conducting transactions with Russia's national debt, Russia may reduce its investment in the US public debt to zero. However, not to put the horse before the cart, one needs to know what US Congress decides on the new sanctions first. Turkey followed Russia's example and abjured investment in the US public debt after Trump raised tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium. From May to June, Ankara's share in the US national debt dropped by 42 percent to $28.8 billion. Thus, Turkey also ceased to be one of the main holders of US bonds.China reduced its share too  - by $4.4 billion to $1.18 trillion. The share of Japan dropped to $1.03 trillion, which is considered to be the minimum indicator for Japan in the last six years.Nevertheless, the US Treasury noted that the investment of foreign countries in US Treasury securities remained at the same level - $ 6.21 trillion - in comparison with the level registered in May. A number of countries have significantly increased their shares - the UK, Luxembourg, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, South Korea, Belgium and Italy.

Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:04:00 +0300

Russia to build major naval base on the coast of Caspian Sea

Russia will build a modern naval base in the town of Kaspiisk (a town of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Republic of Dagestan), Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.The defence minister said that Russian specialists already started the work to expand the bay in the town for Russian warships and create necessary infrastructure on land. The first stage of construction works is to be finished by the end of this year.Viktor Zavarzin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, said that the construction of a powerful naval base in Kaspiisk would be of great importance for the protection of the interests of the Russian Federation. The official noted, though, that the implementation of the project would require a huge amount of work to be done. For the time being, the Russian flotilla is based in Astrakhan, which is not the best option. If Russia builds a naval base in Kaspiisk, then warships of the Russian Navy would be able to enter the open water area of the Caspian Sea.The Caspian Sea is the largest closed water reservoir on the planet. One may say this is the largest lake in the world. The Caspian Sea washes the shores of five coastal states: Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:11:00 +0300

Putin to attend wedding ceremony of Austrian Foreign Minister

Vladimir Putin is planning to attend the wedding ceremony of Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl on the way to Berlin, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. The party is to be held on August 18. "Yes, he'll stop by on the way to Berlin," said Peskov. Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that Austrian Foreign Minister invited Putin for the wedding when the Russian president was visiting Vienna in the beginning of June. As long as Putin is traveling to Berlin for the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a few days, the Russian president decided to accept the invitation. "We will drop by and congratulate them," Ushakov said. Earlier on Wednesday, the Kronen Zeitung, a large Austrian publication, reported with reference to its sources that Vladimir Putin was going to arrive for the wedding as a surprise guest. The ceremony is reportedly going to take place in the south of the Austrian province of Styria among vineyards, the publication wrote.On August 18, Putin is going to hold a meeting with German Chancellor Merkel. The meeting is to take place in Meseberg Palace (Schloss Meseberg) near Berlin. Putin and Merkel intend to discuss the crises in Ukraine and Syria, as well as new sanctions.

Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:59:00 +0300

Russia starts Star Wars first. USA concerned and puzzled

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.

Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:41:00 +0300

Kremlin explains how Oleg Sentsov can be pardoned

If Oleg Sentsov wants to be pardoned, he needs to ask President Vladimir Putin personally about this. This is how the procedure goes in Russia, officials at the administration for ensuring constitutional rights of citizens under the presidential administration told Sentsov's mother in response to her petition for pardon of her son.The convict, Oleg Sentsov, will have to write a petition, but before it goes to Putin, a special committee and the head of the subject will have to approve the document. It is up to the head of state to make the final decision. Sentsov's mother was informed that her appeal was forwarded to the governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, where the convict serves his sentence. Oleg Sentsov's mother appealed to the Russian president on July 13 with a request to pardon her son. In her letter to the president she wrote that her son's family was going through many problems and hardships without the father. On August 9, it became known that the letter was delivered to the pardon commission under the Russian president.We would like to recall here that there were many personal requests from a variety of public figures in Russia to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in 2013 on humane grounds (Khodorkovsky's mother was dying) after the entrepreneur had sent his personal petition to the president. In addition, experts and journalists note that Oleg Sentsov is not a director. "Oleg Sentsov from Simferopol was a common owner of a computer club. He did not have any cinematographic or any other type of education associated with art. At some point, his business went to the bottom, and Oleg wanted to make a film about the life of a gamer. This is the story behind his motion picture "Gamer" which was released in 2012. Oleg Sentsov was convicted in Russia for 20 years imprisonment on charges of terrorist activities. In May, the man went on a hunger strike, demanding the release of Ukrainian political prisoners. His protest lasts for more than 90 days.Russia's Federal Security Bureau arrested Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, Alexei Chirniya and Gennady Afanasyev on May 30, 2014. The men were suspected of organising a branch of the right-wing subversive and terrorist group Right Sector (banned in Russia) in the Crimean Republic.

Wed, 15 Aug 2018 11:53:00 +0300

Details of Putin-Merkel surprise meeting unveiled

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plan to discuss a variety of topical issues, including sanctions, the state of affairs in Syria and Ukraine, as well as issues of economic cooperation during their meeting in Germany on August 18."As for the topics, they are going to compare notes on all most vital issues. These include, of course, the crisis in Ukraine, the crisis in Syria, restrictions that many countries now face and consequences of these restrictions," Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin and Merkel will also discuss possible US sanctions, including those against German companies. "They will also talk about issues of bilateral trade and economic relations, the implementation of major international commercial projects, such as Nord Stream-2 and other issues that the parties deem necessary to discuss," he added. Official representative of the German government, Steffen Seibert, said at a briefing in Berlin on August 13 that Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 18 at the government residence in Mezeberg Castle. The talks are to start at 18:00 local time.  Photo credits:

Tue, 14 Aug 2018 18:53:00 +0300

Russian government prepares to get rid of US dollar in economy

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announced a possible move that Russia can take in response to new US sanctions. The new sanctions, which the US plans to put in effect against Russia on Aug. 22, include the ban on the supplies of dual-use equipment to Russia, restrict the activities of Russian banks, lower the level of diplomatic interaction and even ban the flights of Russia's Aeroflot to the United States.Many experts believe that Russia will choose to get rid of the US dollar in its economy. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the US dollar was an "unreliable currency." "We have significantly cut investing our reserves in US assets. In fact, the dollar, which was considered the world currency, already becomes a risk instrument for settlements," Siluanov said.The Russian Finance Minister also suggested a solution that may serve as Russia's powerful response to the United States. "We can fix the dollar equivalent, but receive the euro, other freely convertible currencies, and, eventually, the national currency for oil supplies," Siluanov said adding that Russia may continue reducing its investment in US securities. The remarks from the Finance Minister triggered many discussions in social media in Russia. Some believe that Mr. Siluanov was talking about the "beginning of the end" of the domestic market, the reintroduction of the planned economy similar to the one that used to exist in the USSR. Others see more reasons for the Russian ruble to decline further against the dollar. At the same time, the topic of the dollar peg in the Russian economy is not new. When Russian President Putin warned representatives of big business that it was becoming increasingly risky to keep money in foreign accounts and in offshore companies, he spoke about the current situation. In May of this year, Anton Siluanov also spoke about the need for Russia to move away from the dollar, although those statements did not attract much attention. "The restrictions that American partners impose are of an extraterritorial nature. The willingness of Europe to provide its position to American partners will show whether the euro can replace the dollar in settlements," he said. "If our European partners declare their unequivocal position, we certainly see a way out in using the European settlement unit and European organizations for financial settlements, payments for goods and services that often fall under various restrictions today," he added. Today, Siluanov continues this line of thinking and sees other currencies that may replace the dollar - the euro, the ruble and the yuan. The minister believes that one should invest less in dollars and use them less to be less dependent on sanctions. Yet, those who prefer to read between the lines are led to believe that the Russian government was going to ban the use of dollars in Russia. For the time being, Russia's state policy in relation to the US economy eyes further reduction of Russia's investment in US bonds and public debt. Photo credits:

Mon, 13 Aug 2018 18:21:00 +0300

Russia could abolish state pensions

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that state pensions could be abolished in Russia in the future. did not rule out that in Russia state pensions could be abolished. "Our pension system has a deficit, there's a big whole in it, and they fill it in from the budget. Whether we are going to have state pensions or not - this is a question too, because the budget has a deficit now too," Volodin said at a meeting with residents of the city of Saratov. The speaker of the lower house of the parliament urged citizens to think about the raise of monthly pensions, rather than about the raise in the retirement age."We in the State Duma have decided - and this ratification was adopted in the first reading - that the pension should be at least 40 percent of the salary of a retiring person who retires," he said noting that the issue has not been fully elaborated yet.Large-scale changes in the pension legislation were announced in Russia in mid-June. The government initiated the bill on raising the retirement age. President Vladimir Putin urged not to rush with such a radical decisions and stated that he, like most citizens, did not like this reform.The State Duma will consider the bill again on August 21. Photo credits:

Mon, 13 Aug 2018 16:18:00 +0300

Putin convenes Security Council meeting to discuss new sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin convened a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation to discuss the new sanctions that Washington is going to impose on Russia on August 22. The participants of the meeting agreed that the sanctions are completely illegitimate. "The participants of the meeting discussed the new unfriendly steps that Washington may take in the form of trade restrictions. They stressed out the illegitimacy of such actions from the standpoint of international law," the Kremlin press service reported. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of the presidential administration Anton Vaino, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov took part in the meeting. On August 8, the US State Department announced new sanctions against Russia in connection with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK. The USA is to introduce the first package of new sanctions on August 22. The new restrictions will affect exports of goods for the defense industry. During the meeting, Putin also discussed issues related to preparations for the Caspian summit in Kzakhstan. The summit of the Caspian Five (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran) is to take place on August 12. The leaders of the "Caspian Five" intend to sign the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, the work on which has been conducted since 1996.  The parties will also consider key aspects of cooperation in the Caspian region and sign a number of five-sided intergovernmental documents. Photo credits:

Fri, 10 Aug 2018 16:17:00 +0300

Russia PM: USA declares economic war on Russia. Russia must respond

The tightening of economic sanctions against Russia can be considered a declaration of an economic war, and Russia will have to respond to this war, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on August 10 at a meeting with employees of the Kronotsky State Reserve."I would not want to comment on future sanctions, but I can say one thing. If they ban the activities of banks or the use of a particular currency, then it can be called a declaration of an economic war, " said the Prime Minister. "We will have to react to this war - with economic methods, political methods, and, if necessary, with the help of other methods, and our American friends should understand this," Medvedev said. Speaking about the current and recently announced sanctions, Medvedev said that the USA wants the Russian government to change its positions on certain issues. "By and large, they want to restrict our economic power," the Russian prime minister said. He reminded that the West had imposed sanctions on Moscow many times during the Soviet times as well. "For the last 100 years, our country has been living under conditions of constant pressure of sanctions. They want to remove Russia from the list of powerful competitors on the international field," he said."Russia was developing fairly well in the early twentieth century, and despite all the difficulties of the Soviet period, there were periods of rapid development, and many did not like it. This is not particularly appealing to those countries that are involved in the imposition of sanctions - largely the United States and a number of their allies. Nothing has changed since then," Medvedev said.As an example of unfair economic competition, Medvedev referred to restrictions with regard to Russia's gas supplies to Europe. The US is interested in supplying its own liquefied natural gas to the European market, and this is a tool of unfair competition," Medvedev said.On August 8, it also became known that the USA would introduce additional sanctions against Russia on August 22 over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. The new restrictions will affect exports of dual-purpose goods to Russia. If Russia provides no guarantees to the United States that it will not use chemical weapons, Washington may impose more restrictions on Russia, which may ban, inter alia, Aeroflot flights to the United States and denial of bank loans.The news of the sanctions have depreciated the Russian ruble against the euro and the dollar. One dollar is traded at around 67 rubles (77 rubles for one euro).

Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:45:00 +0300

Kremlin running out of patience as USA tries to create smoke without fire

The Kremlin has reacted to the news about the US intention to impose new sanctions against Russia because of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter."We consider it absolutely unacceptable to link the new restrictions, which we still consider illegal, with the Salisbury incident," Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on August 9. "We once again strongly deny any accusations in the context of Russia's possible involvement in what happened in Salisbury. This is out of the question," he added. When asked about possible retaliatory actions that Russia could take in response, Peskov said: "For the time being, talking about countermeasures would be wrong, because we need first to understand specifically and officially, what this is all about." The Kremlin spokesman called the intention of the United States to impose new sanctions on Russia  an "absolutely unfriendly" move, which comes contrary to the recent meeting between Russian and US presidents in Helsinki.However, according to Peskov, the United States is "a very unpredictable participant of international affairs," and "now you can expect anything from Washington." At the same time, Putin's press secretary said that Russia retains hope for building constructive relations with the US.Dmitry Peskov also said that Russia manages to keep its financial system in proper condition, despite Western restrictions.Maria Zakharova, an official spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that the United States wants to deteriorate bilateral relations with Moscow deliberately."As a condition for lifting the sanctions, the Americans set forth clearly unacceptable requirements for us, and this is the first stage. We are being threatened with a further escalation of sanctions pressure," she said. "Thus, the US is consciously following the path of the further aggravation of bilateral relations, which they have in fact reduced to zero already," Zakharova added. She assured that Russia would develop measures in response. Dialogue with Russia from the standpoint of power and ultimatums "is useless and unpromising," she added. It is worthy of note that the outflow of capital since the beginning of the year, the export of capital from Russia has increased to $21.5 billion and is to reach $30 billion by the end of the year.

Thu, 09 Aug 2018 19:28:00 +0300

Russians tired of Putin's foreign policy

The share of Russians, who support Putin's foreign policy has been decreasing. A recent opinion poll shows that the Russians are tired of Russia's foreign political agenda and want to help themselves, rather than other countries. When asked "What attracts you in Vladimir Putin?" in 2016, 22 percent of Russians said that they supported his foreign policy. In July 2018, the share of those sharing the same view dropped to 16 percent, a new study conducted by Levada Center said. In 2016, 25 percent of the polled said that they admired Putin's policy to defend Russia's interests. In 2018, however, the number of those people dropped by eight percent to 17 percent. At the same time, almost a half of respondents said that they considered Putin an experienced politician (49%), while in 2016 only 33% of respondents chose such an answer. Many Russians still admire Putin's vigour and determination (30% in 2018 and 31% in 2016), and 22 percent (in 2016 - 21 percent) called him a visionary politician.When asked "What you do not like about Vladimir Putin?" 17 percent of respondents both now and in 2016 preferred to indicate to his connections with big capital. In 2018, 16 percent of respondents said that Putin is indifferent to interests of the people (+5% since 2017). Fourteen percent said that the head of state is connected with corrupt politicians (17 percent in 2016). Nine percent of the polled believe that Putin does not cope with his job (six percent in 2016). The poll was conducted on July 19-25 among 1,600 people.

Thu, 09 Aug 2018 18:34:00 +0300

Russia's pension reform to split Putin's majority in Navalny's favor

Alexei Navalny announced another protest action in Russia on September 9. On this day, which will be the single voting day in Russia, Navalny urges all Russians to publicly express protest against the pension reform. Mr. Navalny traditionally tries to make his mass events happen on special and important days. Apparently, the opposition blogger tries to receive as much media coverage as possible in Western countries. Most of Navalny's meetings and rallies take place as unauthorized events, in which his followers often clash with representatives of law-enforcement agencies. It is important to understand that Alexei Navalny is not an independent persona. Simply put, he acts as a conductor of Western influence in Russia. It became especially evident after the rallies on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. Those rallies became an attempt to make Maidan riots happen in Russia. It is worthy of note that Mr. Navalny had openly spoken about the need to raise the retirement age in the past. These days, however, he wants the Russians to protest against the pension reform. We have no questions to Mr. Navalny about it, because this is common logic of his political "struggle," or business, better to say. He has been extremely consistent in this business of his. The main question is why he had an opportunity to appear in the niche that is highly important for the entire Russian society. We believe that he appeared there because a public discussion on the need to raise the retirement age in Russia had failed from the very start. The State Duma is now on holiday, so there is no communication between electors and  parliamentarians. However, Internet and social media never go on holidays. Russian bloggers express their ardent protest against the pension reform bill and pay absolutely no attention to statements about important changes that the bill may have during further discussions in the parliament. State-run mass media, however, try to work in accordance with their agenda. First off, they do not call the pension reform a "reform" and refer to the experience of foreign states, even though Russia has major ideological discrepancies, if not confrontation, with Western countries. At the same time, the silence of the government, which came up with this reform and started promoting it, and the active position of the parliament, which started passing the bill contrary to all of its principles and reputation, creates interesting political sentiments in the Russian society. The majority of Russian people have their eyes on Vladimir Putin as the only power institution that remains with this majority and who is ready to conduct a full-fledged dialogue with his people, or listen to them, at least. All this takes us back to Putin's pre-election campaign, which the presidential administration should have supported informationally. It turned out, though, that it was Putin himself, who conducted the campaign for himself with his own forces and his real policy.In general, the situation with the pension reform is the same.  The Kremlin should have launched a massive propaganda campaign to inform the population and establish communication channels with people to make the discussion as massive as possible. Nevertheless, the Kremlin does not seem to be willing to pay attention to the problem, whereas the majority of Russians have their hopeful looks attached to President Putin as the only legitimate representative of power in the country.What was the point of running the campaign of "transparent and legitimate" elections in Russia, if those who won the elections are unwilling to listen to their electors nor do they want to pay attention to what their electors say on such an important topic as retirement age. As for Navalny and its protest activity, it is clear how he is going to promote it in the media. Alexei Navalny will portray himself as a person, whom the Russian administration accuses of working for the West, of stealing timber and buying luxury cars, etc, etc. Meanwhile, a social protest in Russia is turning into a political one. Mr. Navalny can now win the support of not only young people, who want more adrenaline in their blood. He can win the support of mature adults - people of pre-retirement age, who make the core of so-called Putin's majority. The consolidated majority has made it possible for Russia to achieve considerable economic and political progress. Today, however, this majority may split. One is left to wonder if OMON riot police dare to twist elderly people's arms and drag them into police vans during street protests. What will Putin say if it happens? On September 9, 2018, the Russian Federation is to hold elections of various levels, including additional elections of seven deputies to the State Duma, elections of heads of 26 subjects of the federation (22 direct and 4 through voting in parliament), and elections of deputies of legislative (representative) state power bodies in 17 regions of the Russian Federation. In regions where governors resigned after June 9, the elections will be held on the single voting day in 2019.Pravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru 

Wed, 08 Aug 2018 17:48:00 +0300

Most Russians do not notice absence of delicious foreign food products

Most Russians are not concerned about the absence of imported foodstuff that fell under Russia's food embargo that the country introduced four years ago, a new study from Romir public opinion search center said.According to the study, only 24% of respondents said that they were upset about the shortage of imported products in Russian grocery stores. At the same time, 76% of respondents said that they were not concerned about the absence of certain foodstuffs that Russia used to import from the United States and other countries of the West that imposed sanctions against Russia, the study said.However, many Russians are still unhappy about the quality of domestic products (particularly cheese) that replaced foreign analogues in food stores. Fifty-five percent of the polled said that they were satisfied with the substitution of imported foodstuffs. More than a half of the polled - 55% - supported the extension of the food embargo, while 45% said that Russia should lift it. The study was conducted among 1,300 people over 18 years of age living in all federal districts of the Russian Federation. On August 6, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning imports of certain types of agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from the countries that imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation. The Russian food embargo affected the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway. To this day, Russia does not import meat, sausages, fish and seafood, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products from those countries.

Tue, 07 Aug 2018 15:18:00 +0300

Russia to respond with military-strategic blow to new USA's sanctions

Russia is prepared for another package of US sanctions and may respond to it with a military and strategic blow.The new bill about new sanctions against Russia includes measures against the Kremlin elite and bans transactions with a new Russian sovereign debt. The Russian side will respond to the US with mirrored military and strategic measures, Anatoly Aksakov, the chairman of the Committee for Financial Market at the State Duma said. Russia may revise some of Moscow's international obligations. Aksakov stressed that it goes about  new acquisitions of Russia's sovereign debt, which does not need to be increased as the budget operates with a surplus.Russia's budget is based on the price of oil at $40 per barrel. Taking into account the fact that today the price of oil is above $70, the Russian National Welfare Fund, which accumulates reserves, has been growing lately. Thus, the impact of US sanctions in this regard will be minimal.Russia is prepared for the new sanctions, which, as Aksakov believes, are not going to affect the Russian economy. However, foreign investors have been turning their backs on Russian securities lately because of the intention of the US administration to impose new sanctions on Russia. The Kremlin noted that US senators are going too far. As long as Russia's unsubstantiated and far-fetched interference in US elections gives US officials the right to cause economic damage to the Russian economy and to the well-being of the Russian population, Russia has every reason to develop its own measures, including military and strategic ones, that would lead to irreparable losses for the US economy and population. Russia may revise some of its international obligations against the background of its highly strained relations with the West. In the past, Russia had assumed certain obligations under certain international legal conditions. As long as the conditions are changing, the obligations will change too. The US abjures its international responsibilities on a regular basis as well, including in the sphere of control over the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (Iran nuclear deal), and in terms of tariff and non-tariff protectionism in trade.According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, the document entitled "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKAA), is intended to exert economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Russia in response to Russia's ongoing interference in the American electoral process. The authors of the document pay special attention to Russia's "pernicious influence in Syria" and "aggression in the Crimea".The authors of the document are Democrat Ben Cardin, Republican Lindsey Graham, Democrat Robert Menendez, Republican Cory Gardner, Republican John McCain, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The measures to be taken against Russia include "sanctions against political figures, oligarchs, family members and others who directly or indirectly contribute to illegal and corrupt activities on behalf of Vladimir Putin."DASKAA also contains a paragraph on restrictive measures against transactions involving investment in energy projects that have the support of state or parastatal organizations of Russia, as well as sectoral sanctions against any person in Russia that could be involved in "malicious cyberactivity."The bill has received a lot of media attention lately because of its requirement to prohibit transactions with the new Russian sovereign debt. Interestingly, the bill appeared soon after the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki. The DASKAA text also complicates the procedure for the US withdrawal from NATO as much as possible and simplifies the transfer of defense equipment to the countries of the military bloc in order to reduce the dependence of certain NATO countries on Russia's military equipment.US officials started proposing new anti-Russian initiatives after the Helsinki summit.  For example, Republican Senator John Barrasso put forward an initiative against Russia's Nord Stream 2 energy project. According to him, European countries need to diversify their imports of natural gas and opt for organic fuels from the United States.Experts believe that such actions could take the world to a global crisis as financial markets would experience the shock that the world has not seen since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Restrictions on capital mobilization and sales of energy carriers would imply default on Russia's external obligations, the amount of which is only slightly less than the debts of LB before its bankruptcy. USA's new measures may thus trigger the effect of a house of cards and lead to deleverage on all markets. In the beginning of the current year, when everyone was expecting sanctions on Russia's federal OFZ bonds, the US Treasury Secretary clearly stated that such a move would be dangerous for the world financial system. At the same time, the USA may pass the DASKAA act to keep Russia on a short leash as was the case with the CAATSA act, the implementation of which took place only eight months after the document was adopted.

Mon, 06 Aug 2018 17:54:00 +0300

Russian ruble declines in value because Russia has no economic sovereignty

Russia should end the sanctions war with the United States by creating its own national monetary system, Valentin Katasonov, an economist, told Pravda.Ru. This week, a group of US senators submitted a bill on the introduction of yet another package of sanctions against Russia. They include, inter alia, a ban on the purchase of Russian debt securities (federal loan bonds, OFZ bonds) by US companies. These securities appear as one of the main lending tools for the economy under the conditions of restricted access to the banking sector. Given the intention of US Congress to put more and more pressure on Russia for interfering in US elections, one shall assume that President Trump will sign it. If the new sanctions affect Russian federal bonds, the ruble may decline in value by 5-15 percent.

Fri, 03 Aug 2018 17:51:00 +0300

Iskander missile complex can now strike sea targets

Russia's Iskander-M missile complex will now be able to strike static targets at sea. Earlier, the system could be used against ground targets only, a source told Interfax. For example, now the Iskander missile system can strike a moored vessel. The original version of the system could not conduct such operations. Russia's Baltic Fleet based in the Kaliningrad region, received Iskander-M operational-tactical complexes in May of this year.

Fri, 03 Aug 2018 13:58:00 +0300

Russia explains reasons to write off debts of many countries worldwide

According to Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Federation has written off a considerable amount of debts from the times of the Soviet Union to several countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, former USSR). According to Lavrov, this money could hardly help Russia in resolving its current problems.The minister believes that Russia would have never received that money anyway. In addition, Lavrov said, it would be extremely difficult to prove at which rate the money had been given to borrowers  during the times of the Soviet Union. The USSR, Lavrov added, was not a participant of the international monetary and financial system, and the ruble rate would be established by the State Bank of the USSR.Over the last quarter of the century, the Russian Federation has waived the debts to foreign states totalling $140 billion. Russia has written off $30 billion of Cuba's debt and a bit more than $10 billion of the debt of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). The debts that Russia has waived for African countries total $20 billion. In 2016 and 2017, Russia wrote off $1.5 billion for Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.Writing off debts to the countries that would never be able to repay them, one can gain political benevolence of their governments and thus create if not an ally, but reliable and grateful partners.

Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:35:00 +0300

Moscow aware of NATO's plans to attack Russia

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Russian administration was aware of the plans of Russia's potential enemies to start a war against the Russian Federation. "Our awareness of what plans the US and other Western countries' militaries are nursing in relation to the Russian Federation is guaranteed," Lavrov said during the "Territory of Meanings" youth forum. The minister also said that Russia's military presence in the world ensures the nation's security and defense capability. Despite recent changes in the global agenda, Russian citizens will be protected accordingly, he added. Lavrov's remarks on the subject were not incidental. NATO regularly conducts exercises near Russian borders, especially in the Baltic countries. At the same time, the presence of US Navy vessels in the Black Sea has been growing steadily. NATO officials, including Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, constantly speak about "Russia's aggression" and NATO's need in defence. In February of this year, Lavrov spoke about NATO member states preparing a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russia, linking those efforts with large-scale military exercises near Russian borders. NATO continues its expansion policy and does not mind accepting Georgia. These statements, however, are still extremely difficult to implement in practical terms. For Georgia to join the alliance, NATO should first recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign and independent states. Needless to say that the West is not ready to do it. At the same time, NATO continues the program for the modernisation of non-strategic B61 nuclear bombs in Europe. This is an American weapon that should be upgraded before 2024. There were 150 such bombs in Europe as of the winter of 2017. This fact does not contribute to easing tensions  between Russia and a number of Western countries either. This is probably one of the reasons why Putin paid so much attention to the development of new types of nuclear weapons when he delivered his annual speech to the Federal Assembly. It is worth mentioning here that Russia has completed the trials for the new weapons and launched serial production of some of them. In general, the awareness of potential threats is a normal situation for any developed country, and this is what Sergei Lavrov meant when he spoke at the forum. NATO does not want to stop its manoeuvres against "those Russians," although this is a political and demonstrative step. However, such a demonstration of power, in turn, makes it clear that Russia needs to continue strengthening its own armed forces as well.

Wed, 01 Aug 2018 12:35:00 +0300