Russian News: March 18th, 2008!

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 11:38:28.The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) intends to form an agency to coordinate the actions of the internal affairs ministries of the organization’s member states, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha told the first meeting of the organization’s emergencies coordination council. Such an agency will enable the ministries to react more quickly to all potential challenges and threats, Bordyuzha said.

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 12:33:54.The Russian State Duma is to consider a draft law on the execution of the federal budget for 2006 in its first reading during Friday’s plenary session. The deputies are also expected to review draft laws on the execution of the budgets of state non-budgetary funds, as well as to consider a number of amendments to the Criminal Code and the Administrative Violations Code.

RBC, 18.03.2008, New York 11:23:46.The net profit of Golden Telecom under US GAAP soared 77.9 percent to $153m in 2007 compared to $86m a year earlier, the Russian telecommunications company indicated in a statement today. Revenue amounted to $1.29bn, which is 51.2 percent greater than in 2006 ($855m). Operating profit surged 33.2 percent to $169m against $127m in the previous year.

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 10:58:09.A new round of talks between Russia and the US has been launched over anti-missile defense in Moscow today. Russia is represented in the talks by Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Moscow yesterday to participate in the talks for the US.

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 10:48:48.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be productive and successful. He made this statement at the beginning of today’s meeting, adding that Russia paid close attention to the ‘two-plus-two’ format (talks between foreign and defense ministries of the two countries).

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 09:58:18.A federal agency similar to the US FBI is to be set up in Russia this fall to bring all law enforcement authorities under one umbrella. The creation of the agency has already been approved at the highest level, with the only issue left undecided: who will take the reins of the agency, RBC Daily wrote today. However, this question is fairly simple, as both of the two candidates for the position, head of the Investigation Committee of the General Prosecutor’s Office Alexander Bastrykin and head of the Investigation Committee of the Interior Ministry Alexei Anichin were once President Vladimir Putin’s fellow students, which means the Kremlin will maintain its influence over investigative authorities in any event.

RBC, 18.03.2008, Moscow 09:33:41.Top-level Russian-US missile defense talks are to be held today in Moscow. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who arrived on an official visit in Russia yesterday are scheduled to meet Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Anatoly Serdyukov. Alongside the missile shield issue, the two sides are expected to consider a new accord to replace the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START I) which is set to expire in 2009. In addition, strategic stability issues, the drive towards non-proliferation led jointly by Russia and the US, peaceful nuclear energy cooperation and counteracting terrorism are also on the agenda. After the meeting, Russian and US officials will hold a joint press conference.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Kiev 19:41:28.Gazprom’s subsidiary that will be in charge of selling 7.5bn cubic meters of gas to Ukraine will be receiving the resources from Naftogaz of Ukraine, Ukraine’s Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Prodan said. The Minister stressed that the government would use its best efforts to prevent violations that were committed when UkrGazEnergo was in operation.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 19:26:06.The Moscow City Government is buying 75 percent of the additional share issue of Vnukovo Airport. As stated in the company’s statement, shares will be acquired through the provision of budget investments for the airport.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 18:50:57.Russia and the US may bring their stances on the air defense and strategic offensive arms issue closer, Russia’s president-elect Dmitry Medvedev said during a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. According to Medvedev, during their visit Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates are scheduled to meet their Russian counterparts Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. It is assumed that the four high-ranking officials will address key strategic cooperation issues. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure the continuity of the Russian-US relations, the Rossiya TV channel cited Medvedev as saying.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 18:10:06.The construction of new houses is expected to surge by a factor of 3-3.4 from 50m square meters in 2006 to 150m-170m square meters in 2020, the Economy Ministry stated in its long-term concept of Russia’s social and economic development. According to the ministry’s forecasts, Russians will be provided with 27-28 square meters of living space per person in 2015 and 30-35 square meters in 2020. Meanwhile, decrepit buildings need to be removed from Russia’s available housing. In addition, all Russians, who were registered as in need of housing before March 1, 2005, are to be provided with it by 2015.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 17:42:59.Russia’s Economy Ministry estimates that the country will expand its share of the global GDP from 3.1 percent in 2007 to 3.8 percent in 2015 and 4.3 percent in 2020, the ministry indicated in its long-term social and economic development outline.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 17:27:27.The Economy Ministry forecasts Russia’s trade balance to be negative and decrease to $90bn-$110bn, or 2 percent of the GDP, in 2018-2020. The figures are indicated in the long-term concept of Russia’s social and economic development.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 16:48:38.Russian population could decrease to 113m people by 2030, the Russian Economy Ministry said in its long-term national socioeconomic development estimates. According to the document, should the current negative trend persist, population could decline to 138m people by 2020 from 141.9m in 2007. Meanwhile, the decrease will be the most rapid among the working-age population (from 89.8m to 77.5m people).

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 14:29:36.Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced concern over the ruble’s significant appreciation against the dollar. The Russian leader made the statement today during the traditional meeting with the cabinet. Putin has requested that the Finance and Economy Ministries coupled with the Central Bank closely watch the situation concerning the ruble’s advance, the Mayak radio reported today. The President noted that Russia could see the developments in the Eurozone and the effect of the euro’s increase against the US currency.

RBC, 17.03.2008, Moscow 13:11:33.The Moscow region’s consolidated budget surplus amounted to RUB 9.998bn (approx. USD 423m) as of February 1, 2008, the region’s Finance Ministry reported today. Revenue surged 45.3 percent to RUB 16.186bn (approx. USD 684m) in January 2008, primarily thanks to the budget’s own revenue (excluding federal subventions) of RUB 15.619bn (approx. USD 660m), or 5.2 percent above the target. Meanwhile, consolidated budget spending stood at RUB 6.188bn (approx. USD 262m). The region allocated a total of RUB 3.4bn (approx. USD 144m) from the budget to pay off its liabilities in January.
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Russia’s share of global economy will rise from 3.1 percent of GDP (purchasing power parity) in 2007 to 3.8 percent in 2015 and 4.3 percent in 2020, the Economy Ministry said in its guidelines for Russia’s long-term socioeconomic development.

The Economy Ministry projects Russia’s exports to stand at $480 billion in 2015 and over $700 billion in 2020, up from $304 billion in 2007. Exports of mechanical engineering products are expected to increase more than 7-fold compared with 2006, to between $100 billion and $110 billion, while exports of transportation services will more than quadruple to $45 billion.

On the global hi-tech market, Russia is expected to account for at least 10 percent by 2020, up from 2.6 percent in 2006.

Russia could be among the world’s top five countries in terms of GDP by 2020, according to the document.

Housing construction is set to increase 3-3.4-fold in 2020 to between 150 million sq. meters and 170 million sq. meters, up from 50 million sq. meters in 2006.

Per capita housing space could average 27-28 sq. meters in 2015 and 30-35 sq. meters in 2020, with dilapidated housing to be completely removed from the housing inventory.

Russians put on the waiting list for new housing until March 1, 2005, should be provided with housing by 2015, the document says.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the significant appreciation of the national currency. “We can see what is happening in the euro zone, and how the strengthening euro affects the European economy. This must be watched closely,” Putin instructed government ministers today, Mayak radio reported.

The outgoing President assigned the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank of Russia and the Economy Ministry to monitor the ruble’s appreciation.

The ruble rose RUB 0.14 against the US dollar today, but weakened against the euro. Over the past four days, the ruble lost RUB 0.47 against the European currency, to 37.11 RUB/EUR, close to the euro’s all-time high in January 2004.

Putin also spoke of Russia’s rising budget spending, including salary increases, and macroeconomic performance.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin assured Putin that the Finance Ministry’s forecasts for this year “as well as changes in the budget, imply that overall macroeconomic performance will enable the government to curb inflation.” At the same time, he pointed to a number of unexpected problems. “Russia is seeing an influx of petrodollars, again, the money supply has jumped by 48 percent, which is a very high increase,” the Finance Minister said, noting that this could add to inflation.
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