Rusian News: November 18th, 2008!

Hot News!RBC, 18.11.2008, Moscow 14:30:22.Head of the State Duma’s defense committee Viktor Zavarzin has warned the NATO Parliamentary Assembly against relying solely on Georgia’s viewpoint when forming an opinion on the Russian-Georgian conflict. He told journalists that the organization was expected to make a statement on the conflict during a session today. It is important that NATO PA’s opinions and estimates are based on the whole picture, Zavarzin maintained, rather than only on information provided by Georgia. The republic’s propaganda machine is striving to make an impression that during the operation Georgian troops adhered to the highest standards of observing human rights and ensuring security for civilians. In its attempts to prove it, Georgia quotes falsified or genuine estimates of non-governmental organizations, Zavarzin stressed, though it is still another blatant and cynical lie.

RBC, 18.11.2008, Moscow 14:08:18.Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev does not see any need to sell the gas giant’s stake in Gazprombank under current circumstances, he told journalists today during the Russian Gas 2008 forum. Earlier, Andrei Kruglov, also the gas giant’s deputy CEO, said Gazprom had already decided to sell its 14.5 percent in Gazprombank, but was waiting for a fair price for the asset. The decision was made public in June. Initially, it was presumed that part of the stake would be sold to a strategic investor, and the remainder during the bank’s IPO, if it was eventually approved. However, if no IPO was to be ventured, Gazprom intended to sell the whole of the stake directly. At that time, Gazprombank put its value at $25bn. However, Gazprom will still retain a controlling stake in the bank, as most of its cash flows pass through it. The current stake is to be reduced to a controlling one as part of Gazprom’s strategy to withdraw from non-core assets.

RBC, 18.11.2008, Moscow 13:43:03.Russia’s Economy Ministry has expressed hope that Russia will become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from January 1, 2010, deputy director of the ministry’s trade relations department Andrei Kushnirenko said during the 7th annual Adam Smith Institute Russian Food and Beverage Forum. However, he pointed out that import duties would only be decreased after one year from the country’s accession date. The market will start to really open up in 2011, and the transition period for changing tariffs is expected to last for three to four years, Kushnirenko indicated.

RBC, 17.11.2008, Moscow 18:17:18.Russia expects its trade with Latin American countries to reach $15bn by the end of 2008, the Foreign Ministry’s information and press department said, quoting head of the ministry Sergei Lavrov today. He noted that the figure was rising rapidly, growing 25 to 30 percent per year. The minister also added that Russia intended to develop trade and economic ties with Latin America, including investment relations. Among the key areas of cooperation, Lavrov cited Russia’s high-tech exports, the energy sector, oil and gas production and transportation, mechanical engineering, metals and transportation industries, the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and space exploration. At the same time, he stressed that the expansion of ties between Russia and Latin America was not an instrument of diplomatic rivalry with the United States.

RBC, 17.11.2008, Moscow 15:29:53.Russia’s bailout plan is in line with the decisions made at the G20 summit, Deputy Finance Minister Dmitry Pankin told a press conference in Moscow today. He stressed that the wording of the summit communique was rather noncommittal and there were no statements obliging all countries to adopt tax incentives or take other steps suggested in the document. Pankin also pointed out that each country would have to take its own national peculiarities into account when implementing the measures proposed at the summit. Particularly, tax incentives introduced by a nation must not undermine its financial stability, the official stated.

RBC, 17.11.2008, Moscow 14:08:30.Russia is considering granting Iceland a loan of no more than $4bn. Even if Russia does resolve positively on providing Iceland with the loan, the amount will be less than the $4bn requested by Iceland. As Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Dmitry Pankin told journalists today, $4bn is “a lot for both Russia and Iceland.”