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Russian elections: Voter apathy and mistrust

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 Eight lists had been withdrawn by September 2.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was not for votes, but for a possibility to get into the right lists.For example, the lists of Yabloko party were withdrawn from the elections to  regional parliaments in the Yaroslavl Region, the lists of Rodina party - in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Communists of Russia - in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candidates, the story is quite sad here too as all prominent candidates who posed competition to authorities were withdrawn from lists as well.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

Putin loses everything he has

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

Putin about the pension reform in Russia: In detail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Default more likely to hit American, rather than Russian economy

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

Russia starts Star Wars first. USA concerned and puzzled

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

Kremlin explains how Oleg Sentsov can be pardoned

Wed, 15/08/2018 - 10:53
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.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian government prepares to get rid of US dollar in economy

Mon, 13/08/2018 - 17:21
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:
Categories: Russia & CIS

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