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Russian News: 05-20-2008

RBC, 20.05.2008, Moscow 09:58:13.The Executive Board of the international special-purpose entity (SPE) Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V. has resolved 10 out of 12 issues regarding the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project during its first ever meeting held in Amsterdam on May 15, head of the Executive Board, the company’s President Sergei Vinnichenko told RBC on Monday. Among the most important matters he named the agreement in principle of the board’s members to raise the company’s initial budget (currently set at EUR 5.8m), depending on the future need for additional funding to make a feasibility study. The existing budget is not enough to launch the project, Vinnichenko said, adding that the required figure would only be determined after talks with the potential contractor on the feasibility study, which had yet to start.

RBC, 20.05.2008, Moscow 09:23:49.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting on the development of Russia’s transportation system in 2010-2015 in Sochi today, the government’s press office reported. The PM is also expected to visit the “Transport in Russia Ч 2008” international exhibition.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 19:44:51.The Board of Directors of Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Russia’s mobile services provider, recommended that the company’s shareholders approve nearly RUB 29.581bn (approx. USD 1.24bn) as the total dividend payment for 2007, which is 1.5 times more than in 2006, the company’s official documents show. Hence, the dividend per share is recommended at RUB 14.84 (approx. USD 0.622). MTS’s President Leonid Melamed stated earlier that he expected the dividend payment to top USD 1bn, in line with the dividend policy that the company adopted in 2007.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 19:19:19.At their meeting today, Gazprom’s Chairman Alexei Miller, and Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian agreed to sign a mid-term gas supply contract. Until January 2009, Armenia will be buying Russian gas at $110 per 1,000 cubic meters. By 2011, the countries expect Armenia (as well as Russia’s domestic consumers) to pay European-level prices, Gazprom’s press office reported.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 15:28:45.Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia’s Board of Directors has recommended that its shareholders approve a dividend of RUB 30 (approx. USD 1.26) per common share for 2007, the corporation stated today. The total payout will amount to roughly RUB 33.712m (approx. USD 1.414m), while net profit reached some RUB 130.071m (approx. USD 5.46m) in 2007.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 14:47:57.Two and a half hours before the close of today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the high on deals remained unchanged at 23.80 RUB/USD, while the low on deals fell RUB 0.04 to 23.69 RUB/USD. Meanwhile, the weighted average exchange rate stood at 23.71 RUB/USD, RUB 0.01 lower than the official rate set by the Bank of Russia for May 20. The current developments on MICEX can be attributed to the dollar’s decline against the euro on international exchanges. The latter is now trading at some USD 1.5590, up from roughly USD 1.5570 in the morning.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 13:44:17.A council for the fight against corruption will be established in Russia, and will be chaired by the country’s leader, the President’s Chief-of-Staff Sergei Naryshkin reported following an anti-corruption meeting with the President today. Naryshkin was also quoted by the Mayak radio station as saying that it had been decided to form an interdepartmental group for the fight against corruption, to be headed by himself. According to the Chief-of-Staff, Dmitry Medvedev had charged the participants of the meeting to prepare a national plan for countering corruption. In turn, Russia’s General Prosecutor Yury Chaika added that the plan would be approved by a presidential decree.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 12:26:36.Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) carried out the first flight of the Sukhoi SuperJet-100 (SSJ-100) Russian regional jet in Komsomolsk-on-Amur today, the company’s press office told RBC. The plane was in the air for one hour and five minutes, reached the altitude of roughly 1,200 meters, and landed safely. The flight was preceded by a variety of trials, as all systems were tested on the ground.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 09:58:38.Russia has won first place in the ice hockey World Championship, beating Canada 5-4 in the final match. This is Russia’s first “gold” since 1993, when the current Russian chief coach Vyacheslav Bykov played for the Russian team. This was also the first ever game, in which Russia played versus Canada in the World Championship finals.

RBC, 19.05.2008, Moscow 09:24:42.A Russian delegation will resume multilateral consultations in Geneva on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will last until the end of the month. It is expected that the delegation will be led by head of the Russian Economy Ministry’s trade negotiations department Maxim Medvedkov. As part of the preparation of the final document, Russia will discuss with its key trade partners such systemic issues as customs and technical regulation, protection of intellectual property rights, and state support of agricultural producers. The major issue that has yet to be agreed upon with the US and the Cairns Group (an interest group of agricultural exporting countries) is the size of agricultural subsidies.

RUSSIA

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree on measures to counter corruption, the Kremlin said on Monday

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Arkady Dvorkovich sherpa in the Group of Eight industrialized nations, and also reappointed four officials as heads of presidential administration departments, the Kremlin said on Monday

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin issued instructions on Monday to assess and check foreign trade contracts in the agricultural sphere for their compliance with the country’s interests

* Russia’s new Voronezh-type radar site in the southern town of Armavir will be put on combat duty in February 2009, the commander of the Russian Space Forces said

* Russia’s Maria Sharapova once again heads the rating list of the Women Tennis Association after the former World No. 1, Justine Henin of Belgium, announced she was quitting tennis last week

* Dmitry Medvedev has appointed Sergei Ushakov as a presidential adviser, the Kremlin press service said on Monday

* Irina Khakamada, a well-known Russian opposition figure, told RIA Novosti on Monday that she had quit politics

* The first charter planes carrying Manchester United and Chelsea supporters have arrived in Moscow as the Russian capital gears up to host the first all- English final in the history of Europe’s most prestigious club competition

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will head an anti-corruption council to be set up in Russia in the near future, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin said after a presidential conference

* Agricultural experts have detected bird flu antibodies in migratory birds in southern Siberia, Russia’s agricultural watchdog said in a statement Monday

* A Tajik national in possession of over 5 kg (11 lbs) of heroin has been detained near Moscow’s Kazansky railway station, a police source said

* Russia’s new Superjet 100 medium-haul passenger airliner made its first test flight on Monday, a spokesman for manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft said

* A new round of bilateral and multilateral talks on Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) will begin in Geneva on Monday, Russia’s chief delegate to the talks said

* Eighteen people including 15 Russians were injured when a tourist bus crashed in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a spokesman for the local emergencies service said on Monday

WORLD

* During a meeting with the UN envoy to Afghanistan on Monday Iran’s president said that foreign intervention in Afghanistan would not solve the problems in the country

* The government of Kosovo has adopted a law on public holidays in the “world’s newest state”, Serbia’s Tanyug news agency reported

* An Estonian court said the trial of a 88-year-old WWII veteran and Hero of the Soviet Union on charges of genocide is due to start on May 20 in the town of Kardla in the country’s western island of Hiiumaa

* The cost of damage from Myanmar’s Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Southeast Asian country over two weeks ago, has been assessed at over $10 billion, national media said on Monday, citing Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win

* Kazakhstan has banned the export of petroleum products in a bid to stem price growth on the domestic market, Prime Minister Karim Masimov said on Monday

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will donate 135 million euros to support international efforts to clean up the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the bank said on Monday

* Russia’s national ice hockey team beat Canada 5-4 in overtime in the final of the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada to become world champions for the first time in 15 years

* The Ukrainian government plans to involve the international community in an investigation into a mineral license scandal concerning a U.S. oil company, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said

* Another two Russian aircraft will deliver humanitarian aid to southwest China, which was devastated by an earthquake May 12, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said

* Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia have drawn up a plan to resolve their long-running conflict, a Russian business daily reported

* Eight people have been killed and nine injured in two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, the country’s interior and defense ministries announced on Monday

* Some 200 relief workers have been buried in landslides over the past three days in China’s quake-hit province of Sichuan, the Xinhua news agency reported on Monday

* A group of Syrian military officials arrived in Moscow on Monday to discuss prospects for bilateral military and technical cooperation, a Russian Air Force spokesman said

BUSINESS

* Novatek said on Monday its net profit calculated to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) grew 80%, year on year, in January-March 2008 to 7.5 billion rubles ($315 million)

* Severstal, Russia’s top steelmaker, said on Monday it had signed an agreement to buy 100% of U.S.-based WCI Steel’s shares for $140 million

* Russia’s crude exports declined 3.3% year-on-year in the first quarter to 61.1 million metric tons (448 million barrels), the country’s top statistics body said on Monday

* Russia’s largest steel producer Severstal is set to issue $1.5 billion in Eurobonds and could invest the funds in buying U.S. steelmaker Esmark, business daily Vedomosti reported

* The European Union said it had cleared the joint venture between SolVin, owned by the Solvay Group, BASF, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s Sibur

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