Russian News From Russia: Feb. 28th, 2009!

Windows to Russia!RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 19:13:06.In 2009-2011, the Russian government will allocate Windows to Russia!RUB 240bn (approx. USD 6.72bn) to compensate certain groups of Russians for the losses they suffered when their deposits with Sberbank and state insurance companies dwindled dramatically after the Soviet Union collapsed and prices went rampant in the early 1990s. The government will also spend part of this sum to buy out state treasury bonds and Sberbank certificates issued in the Soviet era. These compensations are stipulated by the federal budget for 2009 and in the planning period for 2010-2011, the Finance Ministry said in a report. Specifically, RUB 70bn (approx. USD 1.96bn) is to be earmarked for these purposes in 2009, and RUB 85bn (approx. USD 2.38bn) in both 2010 and 2011.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 19:02:52.Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted a bill that amends Russia’s legislation to allow for a smaller number of voter signatures in favor of candidates for State Duma deputies and specifies the grounds for candidates’ registration to the State Duma.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 18:36:40.Russian Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova will speak at the Federation Council’s plenary meeting on March 4, RBC learned from the press office of the Russian parliament’s upper house. As part of the government hour meeting, the minister will tell senators about the top-priority steps the ministry is taking to allay tensions on the labor market.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Novo-Ogaryovo 16:00:05.The Russian government does not intend to reintroduce capital flow restrictions, even in order to prevent sharp exchange rate fluctuations, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with the United Russia party’s leaders in Novo-Ogaryovo. Such a move would only signal the government’s complete abandonment of its ambitious plans to make the ruble a regional reserve currency, Putin stated. He noted that the ruble was already a freely convertible currency – 90 percent of Russian-Belarusian trade, for instance, was in rubles. “We do not want to abandon these strategic projects,” the PM concluded.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Novo-Ogaryovo 15:43:47.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that the country’s monetary authorities have so far managed to keep inflation in check, as he said during a meeting with the United Russia political party’s leadership in Novo-Ogaryovo. Putin reiterated that prices grew 3.1 percent between early January and mid-February 2008 and 3.2 percent over the same period of the current year. “On the whole, we have managed to control the situation,” he concluded.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 14:29:18.Russia’s external debt (including that of the former Soviet Union which was undertaken by Russia) decreased 9.8 percent in 2008 and stood at USD 40.5bn or EUR 28.7bn as of January 1, 2009, compared to USD 44.9bn as of January 1, 2008, Russia’s Finance Ministry indicated in a report today. Debt to member states of the Paris Club shrank 22 percent to USD 1.4bn or EUR 1bn as of January 1, while non-Paris Club debt dropped 13 percent to USD 1.9bn or EUR 1bn.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 13:37:47.GAZ Group intends to save RUB 20bn (approx. USD 560m) in 2009 as it kicks off a program for improving the economic soundness of its enterprises in the wake of the crisis, the Russian truck maker’s press office reported. As part of the proposed plan, the company will implement a program in 2009 that enables it to step up sales, free up cash for timely servicing of its loan portfolio, and avoid losses by the end of the current year.

RBC, 27.02.2009, Moscow 12:29:31.Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze insists that Mikhail Saakashvili’s major mistake in international relations was breaching friendly relations with Russia. He made this statement for the Russia Today TV channel. He pointed out that Georgia’s authorities could have at the very least preserved relations with Russia at the previous level. “Yet they failed to agree, and thus an anti-Russia campaign was launched, with the August military conflict as its culmination, which left Georgia devastated,” Shevardnadze said. “As a result, Russia acknowledged Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence,” he continued, adding that this was Moscow’s great mistake which threatened to have negative consequences in the future.

RBC, 26.02.2009, Kiev 19:13:14.Naftogaz of Ukraine has officially approached Gazprom to cut the volume of gas it is scheduled to buy in 2009 from 40bn to 30bn cubic meters, the Ukraine president’s press office reported today citing Bogdan Sokolovsky, the president’s envoy on international energy security. Sokolovsky said the Ukrainian company was requesting a revision of a respective clause in the contract signed in January 2009, adding that in accordance with the agreement, such revisions must be made at least six months before the year starts, when the deliveries are to be made. The fact that the agreement has to be changed a mere month after it was reached demonstrates that it has serious shortcomings and was drafted without any prior expert studies. He believes it is already high time for Ukraine to start negotiating cuts to the gas volumes to be supplied from 2010 to 2019 in accordance with the nation’s energy strategy.