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

Fri, 10/08/2018 - 12:45
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).
Categories: Russia & CIS

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

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 16:48
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 
Categories: Russia & CIS

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

Mon, 06/08/2018 - 16:54
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.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Moscow aware of NATO's plans to attack Russia

Wed, 01/08/2018 - 11:35
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.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia obediently sells RD-180 rocket engines to USA if and when requested

Tue, 31/07/2018 - 17:53
The new contract for the sale of Russian RD-180 rocket engines produced by Energomash to  the United States may fall under the Russian anti-sanctions law. Does Russia want to use this law? Igor Arbuzov, General Director of the maker of RD-180 rocket engines, NPO Energomash, said on Tuesday that his company and the US-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) entered into a new agreement on the delivery of RD-180 rocket engines to the USA. The engines that Russia is selling to the USA are used for the first stage of US Atlas 5 space vehicles. It is an open secret that the Americans have not been able to build an analogue to the Russian engine yet. Can the Russian government use the law "On measures of influence (counteraction) in response to  unfriendly actions of the United States of America and other foreign states" for the above-mentioned deal?Washington has been persistently expanding restrictive measures against the Russian Federation for years now, but Moscow prefers not to do anything in return. The rocket engine deal between Russia and the USA does not affect common citizens. Many would probably say that Russia would harm itself by terminating cooperation with the USA in the space industry. What is the point of such laws then? Scientific director of the Space Policy Institute, Ivan Moiseyev, told Pravda.Ru that Russia's refusal to sell RD-180 rocket engines to the USA would cause considerable damage to their maker, NPO Energomash, to the entire domestic engine building industry, and to Russia on the whole. "The Americans will not even feel any damage. All foreign transactions of this category come as government orders, and Russia receives money for that. There's also our reputation. If we cancel the contract, the reputation will worsen, and new contracts are not likely to follow. As for laws that do not work, this is a common peculiarity of Russian laws - they are adopted for the promotion of certain MPs, rather than for real action," Ivan Moiseyev said.On June 4, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law "On measures of influence (counteraction) in response to unfriendly actions of the United States of America and other foreign states." According to the law, the government of the Russian Federation, upon the decision of the head of state, will be able to introduce retaliatory measures. At the same time, these measures should not affect essential goods, analogues to which are not produced either in Russia or in other countries. For the time being, the Russian government has not submitted any suggestion for responsive measures to the president.
Categories: Russia & CIS

'Iron curtain' is falling: Visa centers to be closed in Russia

Thu, 26/07/2018 - 17:12
On Thursday, July 26, many Russians could see the phantom of the good old iron curtain falling between Russia and the West. The news came from the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina. Last week, United Russia MPs proposed amending the federal law about the procedure to leave and enter the territory of the Russian Federation. In accordance with these amendments, the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs should hold mandatory accreditation of all companies rendering intermediary visa registration services to Russian citizens. In order to obtain accreditation, a visa issuance company is supposed to have representative offices in at least 20 regions of the Russian Federation, whereas the share of foreign participation in the authorized capital of the company should not exceed 20 percent. In addition, applicants should have certified technical means to process confidential information (including biometric personal data). The amendments also require at least three years of experience in collecting and processing documents for obtaining visas on behalf of diplomatic missions and consular missions.According to the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina, none of  existing operators can meet the criteria proposed in the draft law. For example, it is unclear how they should comply with the requirement of foreign participation. Presently, there are six companies that run visa service centers in Russia: VFS Global, GVCW - Greece, VMS - Italy, BLS - Spain, India, TLS - Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium and Pony Express. The information on each of these companies is available to the public in the state register of legal entities.It is unlikely that these companies can be replaced with Russian ones: even if they meet all other requirements, Russian companies will not have three years of experience in rendering visa services. Needless to say that the adoption of amendments will trigger a mirror response from other countries. In this case, big plans to attract foreign tourists to Russia, especially after the World Cup, may not materialize.To make matters worse, residents of Russians regions will have to come to Moscow to get a visa to a foreign country. They will also have to spend many hours standing in long lines to visa departments of foreign embassies, as it was practiced during the 2000s. In a nutshell, all this is nothing but bad news that, if it becomes real, will complicate the lives of all Russian travelers. The news triggered countless "iron curtain" discussions in social media in Russia. The "iron curtain" has many holes in it as Russia has visa-free regime with many countries. Yet, the curtain would be very strong when it comes to a trip to Europe or to the States. Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, Sergei Krivonosov, (United Russia) said that the Russian authorities, on the contrary, seek to minimize visa restrictions."At the initiative of the president, we are currently preparing proposals to simplify visa procedures. There are a number of countries that have already simplified the procedure to issue visas for Russian citizens. I haven't heard of the initiative that you're talking about. The State Duma's Subcommittee on Tourism (Sergei Krivonosov heads it - ed.) works to simplify visa procedures," the MP told Pravda.Ru. "We do want to make the procedure simpler, because we've had problems with bankruptcies of tour operators. We believe that an electronic visa can help. I am sure that there is no iron curtain of any type involved," Sergei Krivonosov added. Oleg ArtyukovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Central Bank gets ready for major crisis or dollar ban

Wed, 25/07/2018 - 14:39
The administration of the Bank of Russia decided to tighten requirements for banks that offer individuals and companies a possibility to open foreign currency deposits. From August 1, the government intends to increase reserve requirements, i.e. amounts of money that banks should reserve to secure deposits.According to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, standards will grow by one percentage point: for obligations to individuals up to seven percent, and to legal entities - non-residents and other liabilities - up to eight percent. At the same time, standards for deposits in the Russian ruble will remain unchanged.Experts note that the decision is to discourage the growth of currency obligations of the banking system. The Central Bank made the decision after a number of major banks raised their rates for dollar deposits thus encouraging customers to invest in foreign currency while the yield of ruble deposits fluctuates near historical lows.Analyst Denis Poryvay believes that the Central Bank of Russia intends to reduce rates and thereby deprive the population of the incentive to keep their savings in foreign currency, because banks will be obliged to pay more for foreign currency deposits. Russian banks will thus have to make foreign currency deposits unattractive. They will also need to attract less foreign currency and reduce the currency share on the balance sheet, the expert said. Denis Poryvay also noted that banks already experience a currency deficit that will continue to grow. In a long-term perspective, such a measure will put direct pressure on the rate of the Russian ruble. Russia pays her foreign debt in foreign currency, and ruble loans will have to be converted into currency loans, the expert believes.Investment director of Peter Trust investment company, Mikhail Altynov, explained that the ruble rate remains only slightly dependent on manipulations of the Central Bank. Globally, the ruble remains a hostage to what is happening on foreign markets: capital flows from/to emerging markets and fluctuations of oil prices, the expert believes.In fact, the Central Bank wants to stop people and businesses from going into foreign currency deposits, so that they do not abandon the ruble completely. This suggests that the Central Bank foresees a growing demand for currency and serious restrictions on dollar liquidity.The Russian government may also expect new sanctions. Not long ago, the government decided to withdraw funds from the US national debt and tries to switch to domestic resources to finance the federal budget by raising taxes and introducing new excises.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian government cares too much about its citizens. Way too much

Tue, 24/07/2018 - 17:06
On July 24, the State Duma gave the third and final reading to the law on increasing the value added tax by two percent from 18 to 20 percent.The government and the parliament, developing and adopting this law, proceeded from the assumption that a higher VAT would bring additional 600 billion rubles in revenues to the budget.However, the reaction to this law, as well as to the notorious bill on raising the retirement age, has been ambiguous, to put it mildly. Some MPs remain opposed to the law saying that it would strike a serious blow on people's well-being and trigger a rise in prices on everything. Valentin Shurchanov, a member of the Communist Party faction in the Russian Parliament, stated that the VAT law was "harmful." "We have budget reserves of nearly five trillion rubles. Yet, we want to collect 630 billion for the economy from people next year, even though we only keep those five trillion rubles in a quiet place," the MP said. Expert and economist Mikhail Khazin was more expressive in his remarks: "I think that raising taxes during an economic downturn is an idiotic initiative. They raised VAT by two percentage points from 18 percent, which in fact means a VAT increase by 11 percentage points. The VAT increase will have a negative effect on people's lives, because economic activity will decrease, prices will rise, and the number of jobs will decrease too."Mikhail Khazin also said that the government did not understand how to implement social initiatives in Putin's program: "Vladimir Putin set the goal to develop social policy, but the government believes that they do not have money for that. As they say, one needs to milk the cow more and feed her less to make her give more milk and eat less," the expert said. For common people, a VAT of 20 percent will entail an increase in prices on everything by approximately five percent. The rate of real inflation will accelerate too. People will have to spend less so that the government receives additional trillions of rubles in the budget. Many social networkers in Russia want to "thank" members of the United Russia faction, who make the majority in the Russian Parliament, for unanimously approving the laws that make people's lives worse. The law will come into force from January 1, 2019. It is believed that the law will send prices on absolutely all consumer goods up by at least eleven percent. In 2019, Russia is to experience a reduction in GDP and investment, as well as lower consumption levels. These indicators are expected to drop by 0.4-0.6 percentage points. In general, Russian citizens do not have to expect anything positive from their government in the foreseeable future. Many paid attention to the fact that MPs approved the law to raise the value added tax very quickly, as if they were in a great hurry. Usually, it takes the parliament a longer time to adopt laws. Business analysts also predict a sharp rise in prices on all goods. To compensate for decreased margins, manufacturers will most likely opt to include their costs in the final price. Higher prices will entail a moderate reduction in demand on the market. If each counterparty includes their costs in prices for their services, then prices may rise by 15-20 percent. The tax burden will also affect the construction sector, the automotive industry and mechanical engineering giving import goods a head start. It turns out that Putin's import substitution and efforts to support domestic producers turn out to be a proper mess.
Categories: Russia & CIS

The World Cup has changed the world in one month

Mon, 16/07/2018 - 19:07
The majority of foreigners, who visited Russia during the FIFA 2018 World Cup, were thrilled with what they saw and experienced in the country. They were thrilled to see Russia that was so much different from what their media was making them to believe. The level of organization of the tournament in Russia was superb indeed: no incident was reported, not a single brawl occurred. Nikolskaya Street, where most fans gathered, became the street of global peace and the main street of the world. The goal of the organizing committee was to show foreigners Russia's best side, to make them remember their time in Russia and have unforgettable impressions. Today, one can say for certain: the goal has been achieved. The 2018 World Cup has changed Russia's imaged for the better in the whole world. The performance of the Russian football team at the tournament became an important addition to the organization of the whole event. Few in Russia could even think that the national football team could exit the group, reach the 1/8 finals and even leave Spain behind on the way. Even when Russia lost to Croatia in a series of penalty kicks, the whole nation was infinitely grateful to their footballers for their amazing achievement. Ratings of broadcasts of playoff matches with the participation of the Russian national team were comparable with the ratings of president's New Year speech. The World Cup has given Russia not only 12 stadiums that hosted the games, but also almost a hundred smaller arenas throughout the European territory of the country. They will be used for  children's sports schools.New airport terminals, renovated roads and streets, the experience of thousands of people who were involved in the organization of the world's biggest event has become the precious legacy that football has given Russia. The whole world has finally got a chance to see Russia as an open and hospitable country, and we would like to hope that many foreign fans would like to come to Russia again and bring their families along. It is worthy of note that all foreigners having FAN IDs for the 2018 World Cup will not need to get the Russian visa if they wish to visit Russia again before the end of 2018. The 2018 World Cup cost Russia more than $14 billion. The financial results of the tournament  have not been calculated yet, but one can already say that the income that Russia has received was a lot lower than the spending. However, profit is not the most important thing, and Russia did not have the goal to make as much as possible from football. Russian football fans bought the largest amount of tickets - 900,000 of 2.4 million. Surprisingly, American fans come next - they bought 89,000 tickets. The list continues with Brazil - 72,500 tickets, Colombia - 65,200, Germany - 62,500, Mexico - 60,300, Argentina - 54,000, Peru - 43,600, China - 40,300, Australia - 36,400, and England - 32,400.The number of European visitors was unexpectedly low. Having been zombified by the media, many British and French fans preferred to stay home and watch the games on TV. Yet, the number of American visitors was higher than expected. Financial results of the 2018 World Cup will follow soon, although experts say that the football tournament has contributed from 0.2 to 1 percent of GDP to the Russian economy. The infrastructure created for the competition and the subsequently growing tourist flow can bring an additional 120-180 billion rubles to Russia's GDP annually for the next five years.Given that Russia's GDP amounted to about 92 trillion rubles last year, these expected revenues will simply be invisible and fit within the error margin. The spending of 1.2 trillion rubles that Russia has incurred during seven years of preparations for the event is just as insignificant.
Categories: Russia & CIS

New Russian weapons: Already obsolete?

Thu, 12/07/2018 - 19:40
The Russian T-14 Armata tank will serve in the army for at least 25-30 years before it is replaced with combat vehicles developed on new physical principles, Colonel-General Sergei Mayev, former chief of the main auto-armored department of the Defence Ministry believes. It is worth noting that the Armata tank, just like the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft, has not been passed into service yet. Yet, Russian military officials already want to know what weapon will come to replace it. According to Sergei Mayev, such platforms as Armata, Kurganets-25 and Boomerang, which Russia has been working on lately (they are at the final stage of development), are traditional weapons. They will be replaced with new arms systems based on new physical principles. However, this can only be possible against the backdrop of the favourable development of fundamental science, technology, design thought, production and financing of all these aspects.Weapons on new physical principles include laser weapons, microwave guns, sound weapons, electromagnetic bombs and so on.According to Mayev, ground robotic armoured vehicles are to appear in about 10-15 years. "As for the air force, opportunities for using robotic weapons in the air are, of course, more homogeneous than for those used on the ground," the specialist said, TASS reports. In general, a lot has been said in Russia during the recent several years about new weapons based on new physical principles.Earlier, military expert Viktor Murakhovsky said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that we are witnessing the development of another stage in the development of arms systems."The development of arms systems based on new physical principles does not mean that Russian physicists have discovered new fundamental physical laws in secret laboratories and are now going to apply them in the defence industry. There are absolutely no secrets about physical laws in general, but in this particular field it goes about certain physical phenomena that we have never used in the development of arms systems," the expert said. At the same time, the new technologies are being developed at the time when Russian military engineers are still working on new traditional weapons, such as Armata tank and Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft (formerly known as T-50 PAK FA). A few days ago, Russian MP, president of the League of Assistance to Defence Enterprises, Vladimir Gutenev, said that there was no need to speed up the mass production of the Su-57 fighter aircraft. In his opinion, in the era of rapid technological development, the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter will  become obsolete quickly. Therefore, one needs to focus on the development of the sixth-generation aircraft. "The Su-57 will not be massively introduced at the Russian Air Force, but the aircraft has a wonderful export potential, and many countries already want to purchase it," Gutenev told Interfax.Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel that the Su-57 had made a good showing so far, including in Syria, where the aircraft could demonstrate its flight performance and combat capabilities in practice. At the same time, Borisov noted that one of the best aircraft in the world today is a representative of the previous generation "4+" - Su-35.Apparently, the question of price is the most important one here. Both fighter jets and Armata tanks are much cheaper than Western analogues, but at the same time they are quite expensive for the massive rearmament of the Russian army.Western experts talk about it as well. Paying tribute to new models of Russian weapons, they pay attention to their price, which becomes the main problem.Naturally, this is not a problem of Russia alone. During the NATO summit in Brussels, US President Donald Trump was salivating in his calls for the allies to increase military spending. In addition, a lot has been said about the F-35 program that has generated quite a number of high-profile scandals, including because of the price issue. Yet, the Americans can sell their aircraft to NATO allies and compensate costs at least partially. Russia has no such opportunity, if we talk about mass exports. How can Russia sell its fighter jets and tanks if the Russian army is unwilling to pass them into service? Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Ruslan Pukhov, noted that the problem has several aspects to it. "The new armament program, which was adopted last year, is superimposed on the previous one, for 2010-2020. The current program is designed from 2018 to 2017. First, it is not so ambitious, and not so large as the previous one. Russia has finished its rearmament program. Most importantly, the Russian economy does not generate as much money as it used to, when oil prices were high," the analyst told Pravda.Ru. "Therefore, we need to treat military spending thoughtfully. Any kind of military spending, by definition, takes money away from such things as roads, healthcare, education, etc. There is always a temptation to cut a number of expensive programs, and Russia has already done that. In particular, we have sacrificed expensive naval programs, such as the Storm aircraft carrier and Leader class destroyers," said Ruslan Pukhov.Oleg ArtyukovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Defense Minister speaks about war with Ukraine, US and fight for Crimea

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 15:20
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu excludes a possibility of a direct military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine both now and in the future.In an interview with Italian publication Il Giornale, Sergei Shoigu said that the peoples of Russia and Ukraine share common roots and experiences of hard trials, such as the Great Patriotic War, when Russians and Ukrainians were defending their homeland, the Soviet Union, shoulder to shoulder. Sergei Shoigu also spoke about the relations between Russia and the United States. He said that it was US elites that started aggravating the relationship with Russia artificially. According to the minister, US elites are convinced that the world is divided into "the American and the wrong" one. Shoigu reminded that it was the American side that unilaterally terminated a few key agreements that formed the basis of global security."Contrary to promises given to the Soviet administration during the unification of Germany, Washington initiated NATO's eastward expansion to Russian borders. For more than 25 years, they have been fooling us by saying that there were no promises made at all, until the NSA declassified archives from that period where all was described in detail and in persons," Shoigu said.In 2002, he said, under the pretext of the fabricated missile danger on the part of Iran or North Korea, the United States unilaterally pulled out from the ABM Treaty. Afterwards, the USA proceeded to deploy its radar stations and interceptor missiles alongside Russia's borders.Shoigu admitted that he would very much like to give a globe to his American colleagues so that they could explain it to him why all of America's "adversaries are in the Middle and in the Far East, but all American army bases and groups are huddling to the borders of Russia." "Are we supposed to defend them or what?" Shoigu asked. In the interview with Italian journalists, the Russian Defense Minister also told of the plans of the West to arrange a "hybrid war" in the Crimea. The United States used the hybrid war technology in Iraq in 1991, as well as in the former Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, Shoigu said. When the West failed to destabilize the situation on the Crimean Peninsula, Western media started accusing Russia of using the hybrid war.Shoigu paid journalists' attention to traces of the "hybrid war" in Ukraine, on the eve of the armed mutiny in February of 2014, when, in his opinion, European countries took passive part in those "hybrid actions" as well. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russians start protesting against retirement age law

Mon, 18/06/2018 - 13:29
The Russians start to express their protests against the recent decision of the Russian government to raise the retirement age. People start taking to the streets to say their words against the reform. The first wave of protest rallies swept through Novosibirsk, Ryazan and Ukhta, fontanka.ru reports. Rallies are expected to take place in a few Siberian citifies on June 24 and July 1, even though the rules for holding public meetings and rallies in Russia have been tightened for the time of the World Cup. Thus, all types of meetings not related to sports events should be held only in places indicated by local authorities in prior agreement with the Federal Security Service. On June 14, the Russian government approved the final version of the draft law on the gradual increase of the retirement age starting from 2019. Thus, the retirement age for men will be 65 years by 2028, and 63 years for women by 2034.The Russians immediately responded to the move by filing a petition on the Change.org website with a requirement to cancel the retirement age reform. The petition has already collected more than 1.3 million signatures. Vadim Gorshenin, the chairman of the board of directors of Pravda.Ru, believes that all the talking about the fairness of the pension reform is ridiculous, because the new law is all about the exploitation of citizens by the state. In a nutshell, Mr. Gorshenin believes, the state wants to make people work until they die. "Just look at the pension allowance that the state gives Russian citizens. Let's take a look at the pension starting from 2018. The average monthly pension of 14,100 rubles ($233) gives 169,200 rubles ($2,800). Thus, it will take a citizen, who budgets himself to the minimum monthly wage, seven years just to save this amount in accordance with deductions to the Pension Fund. If the state offers the average Russian man the amount of less than 169,200 rubles for all of his lifetime work, given the average life expectancy of 65.9 years, then a question arises of who the average Russian man needs to work for all of his life," Vadim Gorshenin notes. Interestingly, rumour has it that Chechnya is not going to raise the retirement age because of many years of war that the republic had experienced in the past. According to unconfirmed reports, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that the people of Chechnya had been suffering for ten years, and every Chechen in the republic had either lost their breadwinner, become disabled or is a parent of many children. In the meantime, the Russian authorities are closely watching how the general public is going to react to the most recent unpopular move of the government.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin's interview for Austrian television: Tough answers to most provocative questions

Tue, 05/06/2018 - 18:08
On the eve of his first visit to Austria, Vladimir Putin gave a lengthy interview to Austrian television channel ORF.The interviewer, Armin Wolf, was interested not only in issues of Russia's foreign policy, but also in domestic political plans of Vladimir Putin harbours. It is worthy of note that, as the Austrian journalist said, there were no prohibitions from the Kremlin concerning the topics of the interview. Armin Wolf was least interested in details of the possible mutually beneficial cooperation between Moscow and Vienna, although this was the reasons for the interview to take place. Contrary to the general trend set by the United States, Austria did not expel Russian diplomats in connection with the so-called "Skripal case.""Austria and Russia have long had very good and deep relationship. Austria is our traditional and reliable partner in Europe. Despite all the difficulties of previous years, with Austria, we have never interrupted our dialogue in politics, security and economy," Putin said, adding that the two countries have many common interests.However, Wolf wanted to find out why the Russian administration was working closely with Austrian nationalist parties that are critical of the European Union. The question contained an allusion to Russia's alleged intention to split the European Union. Putin had to patiently explain obvious things to the Austrian reporter:"We have no goal to divide anything in the European Union, we are interested in the prosperous EU, because the European Union is our largest trade and economic partner, and the more problems the European Union has, the more risks and uncertainties we have to deal with," Putin said. Of course, the Austrian journalist could not but ask Putin about "Russia's interference" in the presidential election in the United States. The journalist asked the Russian president about activities of the Internet Research Agency, aka the "troll factory", which is associated with Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin. The journalist persistently tried to get Vladimir Putin to confirm the thesis that the man who is commonly referred to as the "chef" because of his restaurant business, could influence the elections in the US, because he had very close ties with the Russian government. Putin had this to say in response to this question: "There is such a person in the United States, Mr. Soros, who interferes in all affairs throughout the world, and I often hear our American friends saying that America has nothing to do with it as a state. Rumour has it that Mr. Soros wants to shake the euro, the European currency, and this is already being discussed in expert circles. Ask the US State Department why he wants to do it. You will be told that the US State Department has nothing to do with it as this is a personal matter of Mr. George Soros. Here, we can say that this is a personal matter of Mr. Prigozhin. This is my answer to you. Are you satisfied with this answer?"Putin did not give a direct answer to the question of why he has not been able to have a meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump lately. "The pre-election campaign for the Congress is getting started, and the presidential election is not too far away, attacks on the President of the United States continue in different directions. I think that this is the first thing," the Russian leader said explaining the reason why he has not been able to meet Donald Trump lately. Armin Wolf asked a question about the possibility of a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea. According to Vladimir Putin, "this is a terrible assumption," because the DPRK is a close neighbour of Russia, and one of Pyongyang's nuclear test sites is only 190 kilometres from the Russian border."We are pinning great hopes on a personal meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, because mutual claims have gone too far," Putin said.Putin had to answer biased questions about the relations between Russia and Ukraine. He tried to explain Russia's position in detail, but the Austrian journalist tried to take the conversation in another direction.For example, speaking about the MH17 disaster, Armin Wolf dogmatically stated that the passenger plane was shot down with a missile of Russian origin and assumed that it was about time Russia should admit that officially. "If you have some patience and listen to me, then you will know my point of view on this issue, okay?" Putin replied, adding that, firstly, Ukraine has Soviet-made weapons and, secondly, Russia is not allowed to access the materials of the investigation, even though Ukraine can access it. The journalist continued by saying that "everyone already knows where the missile came from." Putin responded: "Malaysian officials have recently stated that they did not see Russia's involvement in the terrible tragedy. They said that they had no evidence to prove it. Don't you know about this?"Armin Wolf continued with a question about Russia's alleged military interference in the Crimean events from 2014."Russian army units have always been present in the Crimea. Do you want to just ask questions all the time or do you want to hear my answers? The first thing that we did when events in Ukraine began...but what kind of events were they? I will now say, and you will tell me yes or no. It was an armed coup and seizure of power. Yes or no, can you tell me?"The journalist mumbled that he was no expert on the subject of the Ukrainian constitution. Explaining how the Crimean peninsula escaped from Ukraine's rampant nationalism and reunited with Russia, Vladimir Putin switched to German in an attempt to convey his message to the Austrian journalist. "What should happen so Russia returns the Crimea to Ukraine?" the journalist asked."There are no such conditions and there cannot be. You have interrupted me yet again. If you had let me finish, you would have understood my point. When the unconstitutional armed coup took place in Ukraine, when power was seized by force, our army units were deployed in Ukraine on legal grounds - there was a Russian army base there. There was no one else there. But there were our armed forces there."The journalist was ready to interrupt Putin again, so the president had to say: "Seien Sie so nett, lassen Sie mich etwas sagen." ["Will you please be so kind and let me proceed."]. Then he continued:"When the spiral of unconstitutional actions in Ukraine started twisting, when the people in the Crimea started sensing danger, when whole trains of nationalists started arriving there, when they  started blocking buses and automotive transport, the people wanted to defend themselves. The first thing that came to mind was to restore their rights that had been received within the framework of Ukraine, when the Crimea was granted autonomy. This is what kicked everything off, and the parliament started working on the process to determine its independence on Ukraine. Is this strictly prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations? No. The right of nations to self-determination is clearly stated there," Putin said."The annexation of the Crimea was the first incident, when a country in Europe annexed a part of another country against its will, which was perceived as a threat to neighbouring states," the journalist interrupted Putin."You know, if you do not like my answers, then you do not ask any questions, but if you want to get my opinion on questions, then you have to be patient," Putin said. "The Crimea gained its independence as a result of the will of the Crimeans in an open referendum, rather than as a result of the invasion of Russian troops. You are talking about annexation, but do you call annexation a referendum held by the people living on this territory? In this case, one should call Kosovo's self-identification an act of annexation too," Putin said. Wolf tried to develop the Crimean question by drawing a parallel with events in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.Putin replied: "Yes, Al-Qaeda's radical groups did want to alienate those territories from the Russian Federation and form their caliphate from the Black to the Caspian Sea. I do not think that Austria and Europe would have been happy about it. Yet, the Chechen people themselves came to an entirely different conclusion in the elections, and the Chechen people signed an agreement with the Russian Federation."When talking about Syria, the journalist claimed that Russia was defending a regime that was using chemical weapons against its people."You said that everyone proved that Assad had used chemical weapons. Yet, our specialists say the opposite, and it goes about the Douma incident, which was used to strike a missile blow on Syria after it was assumed that there were chemical weapons used in the city of Douma," Putin said adding that the OPCW was invited to investigate those events."Instead of waiting for one or two days and giving the OPCW an opportunity to work on the spot, a missile attack was conducted. Please tell me: is this the best way to resolve a question of objectivity of what was happening there? In my opinion, it was an attempt to create conditions that wold make investigation impossible," Putin said. As for Russian domestic affairs, the Austrian reporter asked only a couple of questions about low salaries and the number of the poor."Since 2012, Russia has gone through a number of very difficult challenges in its economy. That was not only because of so-called sanctions and restrictions, but also because prices on Russian traditional export goods had halved. It affected Russia's GDP budget revenues, and ultimately, people's incomes. Yet, we have preserved and strengthened the macroeconomic stability in the country," Putin said. Armin Wolf also asked Putin about his plans for the future, as well as about the Russian opposition. "Some say that you have turned the country into an authoritarian system, in which you are the czar. Is this true?" the journalist asked."No, this is not true, because we have a democratic state, and we all live within the framework of the current Constitution. Our Constitution says that a president can be elected for two consecutive terms. After two legitimate terms of my presidency I left this post, did not change the Constitution and moved to another job, where I served as the prime minister. Afterwards, I returned in 2012 and won the election again," said Putin.The Austrian journalist was very interested why opposition activist Alexei Navalny could not participate in the elections. Wolff also wanted to know why Putin prefers not to call the blogger's name in public."We have a lot of rebels, just like you, just like the United States," Putin replied. "We do not want to have another, second, third or fifth Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia. We do not want people like Saakashvili on our political scene. Russia needs those who bring positive agenda, who know, and not just designate problems, and we enough of them, just like you have in Austria, just like in any other country," Putin added. Wolf continued insisting that Navalny was not given an opportunity to run, and people could not even take a look at the candidate. "Voters can look at any person they want because the Internet is free for us. No one shut him away. The media is free. People can always go out and say something out loud, and this is what various political figures do. If a person acquires some sort of electors' support, then he becomes a figure which the state must communicate and negotiate with. Yet, if their level of confidence is 0,01, 0,02, 0,03 percent, then what can we talk about? This is just another Saakashvili. Why do we need such clowns?" Putin said. "My presidential term has just begun, it's only a start, so let's not put the cart before the horse. I've never violated the Constitution of my country and I'm not going to do that," the president said answering a question about his plans for the future. At the end of the interview, the journalist asked Putin a very unusual question that, as it seems, no one has ever asked the Russian president before. The question was about Putin's so-called "alpha male photos," on which he posed semi-naked. According to the journalists, it is unusual for a head of state to publish such photos for the general public."Well, thank God, you said semi-naked, and not naked. If I'm having a holiday, I do not think I should hide in the bushes, there's nothing bad about it," Putin said. Later, Armin Wolf shared his impressions of the interview with the Russian president. He said that the Russian president was a very artful and complex interlocutor. Wolf added that he was impressed with Putin's quiet voice most. "As a matter of fact, my expectations were justified. Judging from what we see on television, Vladimir Putin is not very tall, I knew it, we all know what he looks like, but there's a thing that really struck me. He has a rather sonorous voice, but he speaks very quietly, especially before and after the interview, and even quieter when he speaks German. You have to concentrate a lot to understand him, because he has a very quiet voice. This struck me most in such a powerful man," said the journalist.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Gasoline prices in Russia: Free like a bird after elections

Wed, 30/05/2018 - 15:16
Prices on gasoline in Russia are going crazy again. This is amazing: no matter how oil prices would fluctuate, prices on gasoline always rise for Russian customers. In May 2018, gasoline prices went up by one ruble in only one week. It's not the rules of the WTO or a market economy - someone just gave a go-ahead from the top: the elections are over, and now is the time for unpopular decisions.On May 21-25, retail prices for gasoline AI-92 and AI-95 increased by seven percent in Russia. Vadim Novikov, member of the expert council for the development of competition under the Government of the Russian Federation, told Pravda.Ru that the budget of the country takes advantage of high oil prices.If oil prices grow, gasoline prices should go up again, and the government has no reason to interfere in this market situation, the expert said. "It is not only market sellers that compete, but also ordinary buyers. Accordingly, Russian buyers compete with foreign buyers. As practice shows, conditions of certain equivalence appear so that sellers could deal with all groups of buyers - everyone should give equivalent bids," Vadim Novikov told Pravda.Ru. "Russia can close borders, and then the Russian market will never be linked with the foreign market, but then Russia will lose export revenues, which currently make the backbone of the Russian budget," the expert concluded.Why not try and do that? Is there a market in Russia at all? Gasoline prices were rock stable prior to the presidential election. However, as soon as the new government was formed, the situation changed dramatically. Before the elections, the volumes of oil products that would be sold at exchange made up 50-60 thousand tons daily. This volume would reduce the growth of wholesale prices and, accordingly, retail ones. Currently, they sell 10-12 thousand tons, which pushed wholesale prices up by 12 percent in a month and by 30 percent over the past week. It is hard to tell who gives a go-ahead for the change in sales, but there is someone, of course.In other words, the Russian economy is a directive economy in the worst sense of the word, because it ensures political victories. Capitalists of a smaller rank take advantage of it too. The cost of gasoline should not greatly affect the growth of prices on food, electricity, etc., but it does - with a profit margin of 100-200 percent, which triggers inflation. The boomerang returns with, among other things, lower excises that go for road maintenance.As a result, it is common people, common Russian taxpayers and customers, who pay for all this. They will have to work more to be able to retire and they will have to compensate for the price growth through a higher value added tax. Is the new old government going to do anything about it? Read article in Russian 
Categories: Russia & CIS

World leaders unite with Russia at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

Fri, 25/05/2018 - 18:48
On the second day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a plenary meeting was held, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and IMF head Christine Lagarde took part.During his welcoming speech, President Putin said that such meetings, which have already become traditional events held in a very friendly and warm atmosphere, are especially important now, against the background of highly intense international relations. "Such a discussion, informal dialogue is especially important today, when the system of international political, economic and trade relations is undergoing a serious test of durability. Conditions for doing business, the share of investments, and everyday life are changing dynamically," Putin said. Until recently, he said, the core of the world economy was based on two most important principles. "First off, it is the freedom of entrepreneurship, trade and investment - an integral part of the rules in international relations. Secondly, it is sustainability and predictability of these rules, secured by legal mechanism. However, today we are witnessing not just erosion, but the demolition of these grounds. This system is breaking down. Today's rule is to violate rules. One thing is clear: violations have become an official tool for many countries, and many countries are forced to take mirror measures and adapt themselves," Putin said. "Today, it is impossible to agree even on symbolic steps in the world economy. The era of global "free trade" is coming to an end. Today, it goes about a new version of protectionism. Protectionist measures and trade restrictions are taken under the guise of national security references. The twisted spiral of sanctions and restrictions continues spiralling further, affecting an increasing number of countries and companies, including those that were certain that the regime of trade restrictions will never affect them. Yet, arbitrariness and lack of control inevitably leads to the temptation of using instruments of restriction again and again, broader and broader, to the right and to the left, at any occasion, regardless of all talks about political loyalty, solidarity, previous agreements and long-term cooperative ties. On a global scale, such behaviour of centres of power is fraught with negative, if not catastrophic, consequences. This confluence of factors may lead to a global systemic crisis, which humanity has never encountered yet. "Such a system of global mistrust may take the world market to a state of subsistence economy. Rules should be uniform and transparent and legitimate for all players of the world market. We do not need trade wars today, we need full-fledged trade peace. It is important to maintain respect for each other: Russia stands for freedom of trade and world integration, for free dialogue on the way to development. We encourage our partners from Europe, America, Asia and other regions of the world to move together towards sustainable development," Putin said. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke next. Macron supported Vladimir Putin's initiatives and  called to be even more flexible and bolder in economic cooperation. He quoted a few excerpts from "War and Peace," and then stated that "in France courage returned to us in our minds. Let us be as flexible as in judo. We need to fight what Solzhenitsyn called the dawn of boldness ... one must be brave!" Macron said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was more reserved, but more specific. He spoke in favour of Japan's participation in the project of creating a transport infrastructure for the delivery of Russian liquified natural gas to Asian markets via the Sea of Japan. He also made a subtle allusion to the issue of the Kuril Islands dispute.  Abe ended his speech by saying that Asia should become a peaceful, prosperous and developing region, noting that one needs to address the North Korean question accordingly. Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China, Wang Qishan, also devoted his speech to the "economy of trust." "One needs to respect each other to create the atmosphere of trust," Mr. Qishan said. He strongly condemned the "baton of sanctions", because such a policy poses a threat to the global market.The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, also said that the rules and transparency of trade and economy were indeed in jeopardy.  She said that Russia was coping with difficulties and achieved an incredible breakthrough. However, she called for greater integration of Russia into the world economy and said that Russia needs to abandon the "raw material economic model". Christine Lagarde also spoke about the danger of globalisation and said that it was not a fair process at all times. That was an unprecedented statement for the head of the IMF to make.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia will not be the only country to use Crimean Bridge

Tue, 15/05/2018 - 13:45
Russia will not be the only country to use the Crimean Bridge which President Putin is opening today, on May 15. Ukraine and European countries will be able to use the bridge for profitable transit to Asia, Senator Sergei Tsekov of the Republic of Crimea said. On May 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the opening ceremony of the automotive section of the Crimean Bridge - a super 19-kilometre-long construction from mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. The state contract for the construction of the bridge provided for the launch of the automotive section in December 2018, but the first stage of the project has been delivered six months ahead of the deadline. For motorists, car traffic on the bridge will be opened on May 16 at 05:30 MSK. Local residents - Crimeans and Kuban residents - will be the first to drive through it.Sergei Tsekov, Senator from the Republic of Crimea, a member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, told Pravda.Ru that the bridge has established direct connection with Russia. "Crimea has now been linked to Russia. This gives us additional opportunities in economy, social sphere, logistics," the official said. Indeed, the construction of the bridge to the Crimea removes the transport blockade of the Crimea, which will be broken completely when the railway section of the bridge is launched in 2019. "This is a major event for the country after Russia's reunification with the Crimea," Sergei Tsekov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru.According to the senator, Russia has showed itself as a highly developed technological country having built the bridge. Russia used state-of-the-art technologies for the construction of support structures installed deep into the seafloor. This bridge is not only the longest one in Russia, but also in Europe.Sergei Tsekov is convinced that the bridge will be protected accordingly from saboteurs. A special service will be established to protect both the surface and the underwater elements of the bridge. "The bridge is important for both the Crimea and Russia. It is important for Ukraine, it is important for Europe, and I am confident that over time the bridge will be used by various economic structures of Ukraine to transport products to the territory of the Crimea. When the relationship between  Ukraine and Russia becomes normal - and it will become normal -  both the territory of the Crimea and the bridge itself will be used for the transit of goods from Ukraine and Europe to Asia. Therefore, the opening of the Crimean Bridge is a landmark event in the life of the European community," the official told Pravda.Ru. The construction of the Crimean Bridge, connecting the Crimea and Russia's Kuban region, began two years ago. The bridge is 19 kilometres long: 11.5 km on land and 7.5 km across the sea.  The bridge across the Kerch Strait consists of parallel road and railway sections. The bridge has four lanes, the maximum speed of movement is 120 kilometres per hour. The railway consists of two paths. The estimated speed of passenger trains along the bridge is 120 kilometres per hour, the speed for freight trains is 80 kilometres per hour.Lyuba LulkoPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin’s biggest challenge in Russia is Putin himself

Tue, 08/05/2018 - 17:49
In his inaugural speech, Vladimir Putin spoke about such things as "deep protection" and "bureaucratic deadness" that Russia needs to struggle with. There were other highly important things in his speech that deserve attention. In particular, Putin spoke about the need for a comprehensive breakthrough in many areas and said that the decisions that the authorities are going to make during his current term as president will determine the future of the country for decades to come. Everything is more or less clear about the Russian conservatism and traditional values. However, Putin's message about the need for a breakthrough and the need for freedom as the basis for this breakthrough appeares as a new and fresh feature in Putin's public appearances. It seems that the president spoke about it for the first time during his most recent Address to the Federal Assembly. He reiterated those theses in a more concise form in the inaugural speech.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian opposition activists desperately urge the West to topple President Putin

Tue, 08/05/2018 - 13:06
Former musician Alexey Lebedinsky, for example, bluntly stated that "it is high time to shoot." "It is about time people should resort to terror to respond to terrorism of the state against people to eliminate the bastards that have seized power," the singer said. In an interview with a Ukrainian publication, Lebedinsky said: "We can not ask the civilized world to save the Russian people from its tyrants, we can't admit to ourselves that we don't have the guts for it, because those in power are strong, unpunished and merciless." According to him, "peoples deserve their rulers, and I'm increasingly sorry for the herds of people on the whole. I'm also increasingly sorry for certain people who understand their helplessness in trying to change anything."
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin Forever

Mon, 07/05/2018 - 14:17
The inauguration ceremony for President Putin was held in the Moscow Kremlin on May 7. This has been Putin's fourth inauguration. A few minutes before noon, the president left the First Building of the Kremlin, where his office is located, and went to the parade residence of the head of state - the Grand Kremlin Palace - to take the oath. Putin went to the inauguration on a "Cortege" project vehicle.At the Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin ascended the Grand Main Staircase and strolled through the halls of the palace - Georgievsky, Aleksandrovsky and Andreevsky - to the sound of a counter march and fanfare. Putting his right hand on the Constitution, Putin said the text of the oath. The chairman of the Constitutional Court of Russia announced that the head of state was sworn in. Putin received the symbols of power and a duplicate of the president's standard was raised over the residence to the music of the Russian anthem.Then Putin addressed the citizens of the Russian Federation. In his speech, Putin called Russia a country of "grandiose victories and accomplishments" and thanked the Russians for their support at the last presidential election. "In this support, there is faith and hope that Russia will continue to strengthen its power, and people will live better," he said.The president also assured that, when taking office as president, he "particularly keenly" realises his "enormous responsibility to everyone" in Russia. Serving Russia is "above everything else to me," he said. "It is my duty and meaning of life to do everything for Russia, for its present and future, peaceful and prosperous." "There is no time for swinging," Putin concluded.Vladimir Putin noted that Russia has been able to achieve a lot recently. Russia has learned to defend her interests and managed to revive the pride of the Fatherland. The country also ensured its security and defence capability. These areas will be given first priority attention in the future, he assured, but the main purpose now is associated with settling domestic issues, ensuring safety and health of Russian citizens. "Our guide is Russia for people," Putin said. "We need breakthroughs in all spheres of life," he said. Improving the quality of life of Russians, including education and healthcare, as well as protecting motherhood and childhood would be his prime objectives as president, Putin said adding that he would make every effort to achieve those goals.At the end of the ceremony, artillery weapons fired 30 solemn volleys from the side of the Kremlin embankment. Afterwards, Putin walked through the inner passage of the Grand Kremlin Palace to Sobornaya Square to see the parade of the Presidential Regiment, where more than 2,000 guests were waiting for Putin to appear. Vladimir Putin refused from the traditional passage of the presidential motorcade along Moscow to the Kremlin, which became a peculiarity of the ceremony. As for the list of foreign guests, who were invited to attend the inauguration, there was temporary charge d'affaires of the Lithuanian Embassy in Moscow Giedrius Galkauskas and American actor Steven Seagal, who received Russian citizenship in 2006. Seagal came to the inauguration with his wife.Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

There's only one man who can help Russia and the West bury the hatchet

Fri, 04/05/2018 - 16:58
President Vladimir Putin considers an attempt to restore relations between Russia and the West, but his maneuver is limited to one man only - Alexey Kudrin, The Financial Times believes. An article in the authoritative newspaper about the upcoming reshuffling in the upper echelons of the Russian authorities after Putin's inauguration says that Putin considers appointing ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin to an important position to make him responsible for the economic strategy and efforts to establish contacts with Europe and the United States.Western leaders would see such an appointment as a sign of Russia's desire for compromise, although it remains unknown when Mr. Kudrin managed to become a symbol of this desire, let alone the assumption that Putin was considering such an option. References to "an unnamed official of the Russian government" and "a former official from the Cabinet" are not very convincing.However, the article gives the name of one expert - economist Yevgeny Gontmakher. "If Kudrin joined the administration or government, it would indicate that they have agreed on a certain agenda of change, including in foreign policy, because without change in foreign policy, reforms are simply impossible in Russia," he said, the newspaper wrote, adding that "it would be a powerful message, because Kudrin is the only one in the top echelons with whom they will talk in the west and towards whom there is a certain trust."Why is Kudrin the only one? Why is there "a certain trust" to him in the West? There are no answers to these two questions either. It is worthy of note that Mr. Gontmakher is a member of the Kudrin Committee of Civil Initiatives. During the recent election campaign, he was a confidant of presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky, whose electoral program was built around the need to come to terms with the West as soon as possible. It is an open secret that Mr. Kudrin, who was dismissed from the post of the Finance Minister in 2011, is still a part of the Kremlin. He participates in the development of economic programs. In 2012 and 2015 he was offered to head a relevant department at the presidential administration, but it did not go any further. Of course, it never occurred to anyone to assume that Mr. Kudrin was perhaps the last chance for Russia to restore relations with the West.Judging by the article in The Financial Times, the idea is about the effectiveness of Western sanctions, which began to influence both the domestic political situation in Russia and personnel decisions. Mr. Kudrin believes that it is impossible for Russia to adapt to them now. In general, the motives behind the hypothetical appointment of Mr. Kudrin seem very doubtful, just like the sources that substantiate such a development. Oleg ArtyukovPravda.RuRead article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

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