Russian News From Russia: Feb. 24th, 2009!

Windows to Russia!RBC, 24.02.2009, Moscow 18:58:59.The Russian population’s natural decrease stood at Windows to Russia!363,500 people in 2008, 22.7 percent lower than in the previous year, the Russian Health and Social Development Ministry said in today’s statement summing up the results of the national health project’s implementation in 2008. The rate of natural decrease amounted to 2.6 per 1,000 people in 2008 compared to 3.3 in 2007, while the mortality rate increased from 14.6 in 2007 to 14.7 in 2008. Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate decreased from 9.4 to 8.5 per 1,000 babies, and the year 2008 saw 364 less babies under one year of age dying than the previous year.

RBC, 24.02.2009, Moscow 18:21:15.During today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the dollar exchange rate fell RUB 0.28 to 35.98 RUB/USD. Meanwhile, the euro closed at 45.86 RUB/EUR, RUB 0.18 higher than the previous day’s close. The number of deals on Micex exceeded 4,000 with the total market volume exceeding USD 15bn. Meanwhile, the amount of direct repo transactions with the Central Bank stood at RUB 253bn (approx. USD 7.01bn), up 72 percent compared to Friday. With this in mind, demand for short-term borrowings remains high among professional market participants against the background of tax payments.

RBC, 24.02.2009, Chisinau 17:17:42.Russia does not rule out the possibility of holding a trilateral meeting on the Transnistrian conflict that would be attended by the leaders of Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia as the guarantor of the Transnistrian conflict settlement, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. He noted that the only chance of resolving the conflict was direct talks between its parties – Moldova and Transnistria – in which they would agree upon the settlement’s basic principles.

RBC, 24.02.2009, Moscow 16:21:33.Despite the financial crunch, the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee does not foresee any problems with sponsorship support for the Sochi Olympic Games, the committee’s President Dmitry Chernyshenko told journalists today. He noted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had announced eight sponsorship categories. Five categories have remained with sponsorship positions yet to be closed, so positive news is soon to come, Chernyshenko stated. He added that there was no shortage of financing preparations for the Olympics.

RBC, 24.02.2009, Moscow 13:43:38.Russians have differing opinions on whether or not the nation’s allies should be given financial aid during the crisis, as 49 percent believe that all money must be used to shore up Russia’s own economy, while 42 percent say that even in this situation Russia must protect its interests globally, which requires financial aid. The figures were taken from a poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM). As many as 47 percent of respondents said that loans granted to other countries were simply useless expenses, since Russia would not get anything worthwhile in return. Meanwhile, 40 percent of Russians pointed out that external loans were investments that would bring Russia many benefits in the future, and 14 percent had difficulty choosing an answer.

RBC, 24.02.2009, Moscow 10:22:49.Gazprom’s board of directors is set to review the issue of Ukrainian payments for Russian natural gas and the Russian gas monopoly’s strategy regarding its relations with Naftogaz of Ukraine, Gazprom’s press office reported today. Among other items on the agenda is the signing of contracts necessary to implement the investment program for 2009, Gazprom’s participation in the development of offshore deposits, and the implementation of its financial strategy’s key principles in the context of the growing crisis on global financial markets.

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 19:57:05.The six-party working group on North Korea’s nuclear program did not discuss Pyongyang preparations for missile tests, Russian Foreign Ministry’s special envoy Grigory Logvinov told journalists today. This issue is still in the background, as there is no reliable evidence, the diplomat noted adding that North Korea’s official statement on the issue was “ambiguous.”

RBC, 20.02.2009, Moscow 18:49:27.The Russian State Duma has suggested mitigating criminal punishments for economic crimes or replacing them with large fines, according to the Duma’s statement on the government’s actions aimed at improving the situation in the financial sector and certain industries. The document also stipulates the need for developing the country’s institutions that protect property rights and preparing a legal base for industries with a high share of value added. The Duma proposed increasing government control over regulated tariffs to prevent them from rising unreasonably.