News From Russia: February 20th, 2009!

Windows to Russia!RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 13:47:04.The development of small and medium-sized Windows to Russia!businesses must be supported to the maximum extent possible, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said during an extended meeting of the State Council presidium on the support of the country’s real economy sector in Irkutsk today. He pointed out that the creation of new jobs in small businesses was a long-term solution for unemployment, the Vesti TV channel reported the Russian leader as saying.

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 13:19:16.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has strongly criticized the country’s leadership for “very slow work, unacceptable in times of a crisis.” He made this statement in Irkutsk today during an extended meeting of the Russian State Council’s presidium on developing Russian industries and overcoming the negative effects of the global financial crisis, the Mayak radio station reported. Medvedev stated that the global financial turmoil was still ongoing and had yet to hit its worst point.

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 12:47:05.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned about the danger of the Russian economy hitting rock bottom, as he said during a meeting with the Irkutsk region’s governor Igor Yesipovsky. If the economy drops below a certain critical level, Medvedev stated, Russia may face a repeat of the collapse it faced in the 1990s. “This is absolutely inadmissible,” the Russian leader was cited by the Mayak radio station as saying. He pointed out that Russia must overcome its current critical conditions with minimal losses, so that it would not be forced to resuscitate industries as it had to do after the demise of the Soviet Union. “This scenario is unacceptable, and we must think of ways to keep production intact and save most jobs,” Medvedev stressed.

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 11:59:34.External factors are having a mixed impact on the Russian stock market, experts say. On the one hand, the fall in U.S. indices to the 2002 levels and the ongoing decline on Asian markets combined with negative corporate profit forecasts are pushing Russian shares lower. On the other hand, the Russian market was supported by yesterday’s 5 to 10-percent rise in oil prices driven by a decline in oil and oil product stocks in the United States. At the same time, however, oil prices are correcting downwards after yesterday’s rally. On the whole, stocks are unlikely to maintain their previous levels today, and Russian shares are expected to fall before the approaching long weekend.

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 09:31:28.Russia and Serbia are expected to sign an agreement on visa-free travel today, a source in the Serbian embassy reported to RBC. According to the document, the citizens of Russia and Serbia will be entitled to spend up to a month on the territory of the other country without a visa. Earlier, only Russians were permitted to travel visa-free for a maximum of one month to Serbia.

RBC, 19.02.2009, Moscow 15:38:48.Irkut Corporation’s annual revenue under RAS edged up 1.3 percent from RUB 30.8bn (approx. USD 845m) to RUB 31.2bn (approx. USD 856m), the Russian aircraft builder’s press office reported today. The company expects its revenue to climb 22 percent to RUB 38bn (approx. USD 1.04bn) in 2009.

RBC, 19.02.2009, Moscow 12:43:59.The number of unemployed registered may reach 2.2 million people on average in 2009, deputy head of the Health and Social Development Ministry Maxim Topilin said during a meeting of the Federal Migration Service’s board. He noted that the ministry expected the number of unemployed to increase considerably. The figure currently stood at 1.8 million, compared to 1.2 million people in October 2008. Russia has not seen such dynamics for many years, Topilin stated. He also said that the share of working Russians had fallen to the 2006 level. “This is a very alarming trend, which makes us review the policies we are implementing on the Russian labor market and the quota regulation policies in regards to foreign workers. We must address the issue of amending the quotas very seriously,” the deputy minister said. As of February 11, some 470,000 people received notice that they would be laid off, and another 920,000 people were working only part-time, according to Topilin.

RBC, 19.02.2009, Bishkek 12:19:23.The Kyrgyz parliament has voted for closing the U.S. military base in Manas, with 78 deputies voting in favor of the move, two voting against it, and one abstaining, the parliament’s press office reported today. The bill denounces Kyrgyzstan’s agreement with the United States on the deployment of its air base in Bishkek’s airport Manas. Once the document has been signed by Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the country’s Foreign Ministry will officially inform the U.S. government that the agreement has been cancelled, after which the United States has 180 days to withdraw the air base from Kyrgyzstan. Update: The document has been signed by the President.