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Russian News: February 26th, 2008!

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 12:59:30.Russia’s oil export duty is expected to be raised to $337.4-$339.6 per tonne on April 1, 2008, if the average price of Urals oil in February amounts to $90-$95 per barrel, head of the customs payments department of the Finance Ministry Alexander Sakovich told RBC today. The export duty is expected to be set at $240-$241 per tonne of light oil products and $129-$130 per tonne of heavy oil products.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 12:48:22.Nearly three hours into today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the low on deals stood at 24.39 RUB/USD, which is RUB 0.07, or .3 percent, lower than the official rate set by the Bank of Russia for February 27. As a result of the dollar’s consistent decline against the ruble, the spread on dollar deals widened to RUB 0.08. The current developments on the domestic market can be traced to the dollar’s unremitting recession against the euro on international exchanges. The latter is now trading at nearly USD 1.4855, up from around USD 1.4840 as of 12:30 p.m. Consequently, the European currency added about 0.1 percent against the dollar on the global market over a short period.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 11:32:06.The preparations for Russia’s presidential election are in line with the schedule, Chairman of the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) Vladimir Churov told journalists today. The official noted that he was to hold talks today with Bolat Nurgaliyev, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the leader of its observation mission, over the preparation for the elections and the process of interaction between the CEC and the SCO.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 11:03:36.The Russian stock market opened upwards today. On MICEX, most highly liquid securities edged up 1 percent on average, while LUKoil and Surgutneftegas each climbed 1.5 percent. On the RTS, Gazprom added 0.85 percent and Sberbank went up 1.6 percent. The RTS index reached 2,080.9 points within minutes from the opening.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 10:50:10.International observers are expected to monitor Russia’s presidential elections in almost all of the country’s regions, Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Vladimir Churov told journalists today. For instance, observers from the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly are planning to cover more than 20 of Russia’s constituent entities, its most densely populated part, the leader of the organization’s observation mission Ural Mukhamedzhanov noted. He pointed out that, following the election, the mission was to present a comprehensive and objective analysis of the compliance of Russia’s election process with international standards.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 10:30:27.At the opening of today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the weighted average exchange rate stood at 24.45 RUB/USD, RUB 0.02 below the official rate set by the Bank of Russia for February 26. The dollar has extended losses against the ruble into a third day in a row, having dropped a total of RUB 0.08 over the previous two trading sessions.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 09:28:07.A ban on any publication of survey results and projections for the 2008 presidential election has come into force today. Between 00:00 local time on February 26 and 9 p.m. on the day of the vote, when all the polling stations close nationwide, any publication of opinion polls and forecasts related to the upcoming March 2 presidential vote is prohibited. The ban applies to the placement of any such data on information and telecommunication networks, including the Internet. The reason for the prohibition is the need to exclude any influence on the citizens’ free will.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 09:28:07, Russia’s GDP grew 7.4 percent in January 2008 compared with January 2007, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said, noting that “this is a good result.”

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 09:28:07, 194 international observers have been accredited for the March 2 presidential election in Russia, Nikolai Zhukov, Chairman of the External Relations Department at the Central Election Commission of Russia, said at the commission’s meeting today. Another 21 applications for accreditation were being considered by the commission, Zhukov said, noting that the accreditation process was going on, and the number of the accredited observers would be changing. In total, about 300 foreign observers are expected to monitor the presidential vote in Russia.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 09:28:07, Albanian drug dealers are buying Kosovo’s independence with drug money, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, said in a live TV link-up between Moscow and Brussels on Friday. “It seems that drug dealers in Kosovo are lobbying for the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. If this information is confirmed, we could see political scandals over the bribery of some politicians with drug money,” Rogozin said.

RBC, 26.02.2008, Moscow 09:28:07, Ukraine and Russia are considering a gas contract for 25-30 years, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said commenting on gas talks in Moscow on February 20 and 21.

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