News From Russia: December 26th, 2008!

Windows to Russia!RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 15:37:48.Russia and China will set up two working groups for integrated water management and the monitoring of theWindows to Russia! quality of transboundary waters and their protection, the Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry’s press office reported today. A joint Russian-Chinese commission for the rational use and protection of transboundary waters will hold a meeting in Khabarovsk on December 26-28, with a protocol establishing the working groups to be signed following the meeting.

RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 15:24:19.Rosneft is planning to refinance or pay back roughly $9bn of its debt, the Russian oil company’s President Sergei Bogdanchikov said in an interview today. He pointed out that the company’s total debt currently amounted to $23bn. Bogdanchikov reiterated that Rosneft paid back $16bn in 2008, including $7bn from its own funds. The company is also planning to repay another $250m before the year-end.

RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 14:59:43.The Russian State Duma has finished its fall 2008 session today. When closing the session, Speaker Boris Gryzlov declared that the deputies had managed to ensure a fast and efficient legislative process. They adopted 162 federal laws and approved three constitutional laws and two amendments to the Russian Constitution during the session, the official said.

RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 12:46:02.The Russian Air Force will receive more than 100 military and training helicopters in the next four years, Colonel General and Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin told a government commission today. He pointed out that this step would greatly improve Russian aviation military potential and carry out operations during the day or at night, in simple or complex weather conditions, and in hilly or mountainous regions.

RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 10:50:22.The Bank of Russia has widened the ruble’s trading band against the basket of two currencies – the euro and the dollar – again today, for the third time this week, a source in the bank said, without giving any exact figures.

RBC, 26.12.2008, Moscow 09:57:55.Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has signed amendments to the employment law passed by the State Duma on December 19, 2008, and approved by the Federation Council on December 22. Amid the global financial crisis that has battered the Russian economy, metallurgical and machine-building companies, producers of consumer goods and retailers, real estate and telecommunications companies and others could be forced to lay off staff. The amendments grant the Russian government the authority to work out and implement additional steps to ease the growing stress in troubled regions, which could imply retraining personnel at risk of layoffs in advance, relocating them to other areas, offering them public or temporary jobs etc.

RBC, 25.12.2008, Moscow 19:37:32.Moscow is greatly concerned over the escalation of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and around it into an open confrontation, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department reported today. The ministry views the missile bombardments of Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip as unacceptable, stressing that such bombardments, as well as Israel’s military operations affecting Palestinian civilians, must be stopped. Military attacks cannot bring peace and security to the region or its residents, the document says.

RBC, 25.12.2008, Moscow 19:13:30.A Proton-M carrier rocket was launched from the Baikonur space center at 1:43 p.m. today, and it placed three Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) satellites into their target orbit at 5:15 p.m., the information and public relations department of the Russian Defense Ministry’s space force reported today. The satellites have separated from the carrier rocket as planned, and their onboard systems are functioning normally, the report said.

RBC, 25.12.2008, Moscow 18:25:00.Russia has completed talks on investment agreements protecting and promoting mutual investments with Iran, Namibia and Turkmenistan, Maxim Medvedkov, head of the Economy Ministry’s trade negotiations department, told journalists today. He also noted that Russia had signed similar agreements with EurAsEC countries, as well as Libya and Venezuela in 2008, thus bringing their total number up to 61. Medvedkov stressed that Russian businesses had demonstrated higher interest in investments in the countries with which Russia had signed such an agreement.

RBC, 25.12.2008, Moscow 15:27:33.Gazprom and the Turkmen government have agreed on the technical requirements for the Caspian gas pipeline’s Turkmen stretch, as well as a gas transit facility to be built at the South Iolotan field, the Russian gas monopoly’s press office reported today. The decisions were made during today’s meeting between Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Tacberdi Tagyyew.