Russian News: July 22nd, 2008!

RBC, 22.07.2008, Moscow 12:59:22.Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has called for an expansion of Russian-Venezuelan relations in the oil industry, as well as for further military and technical cooperation, the Mayak radio station reported today. The two countries must become strategic partners in these areas, Chavez noted following his arrival in Moscow. Such a policy will guarantee Venezuela’s sovereignty, which is being threatened by the US, Chavez said. The Venezuelan President is set to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev today. Military, technical, and economic bilateral relations are expected to be the key issues at the meeting.

RBC, 22.07.2008, Moscow 11:42:37.The Russian environmental watchdog Rostekhnadzor together with the pipeline giant Transneft’s management, and representatives of the academic community and ecological organizations have completed their assessment of the observance of environmental law in the designs for the second stretch of the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO-2) pipeline system. At a field meeting in Vladivostok, the city near which the second phase of the ESPO pipeline will be built, it has been found that the project’s design work was being carried out in complete compliance with environmental legislation, Rostekhnadzor’s press office reported.

RBC, 22.07.2008, Moscow 09:31:17.Russia has finalized its comments to the draft report of the working group for Russia’s accession to the WTO. As reported earlier, another round of consultations concerning Russia’s ascension to the WTO was held in Geneva from July 15 to 19. During the consultations, the Russian side met with a number of WTO members to settle particular issues touched upon in the draft working group report. After the talks, all the documents including Russia’s comments were filed to the WTO Secretariat to be incorporated into a new version of the report. In addition, Russia held informal consultations with concerned countries regarding Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary measures, and export duty discussions were continued with EU member states.

RBC, 21.07.2008, Moscow 18:13:23.The rise in Russia’s sovereign rating is expected to make it easier for Russian companies to secure loans globally, and it will increase their capitalization, Alexei Kudrin, the Deputy PM and Finance Minister, said today, commenting on Moody’s recent decision to upgrade Russia’s rating from Baa2 to Baa1. Therefore, all three of the world’s leading agencies have ranked Russia fairly high, Kudrin noted, referring to Moody’s, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s. The Minister noted that Russia has yet to climb another seven steps to achieve the highest rating possible, whereas it has already risen nine steps over the past few years. Kudrin reiterated that Moody’s decision was attributed to a favorable situation regarding Russia’s debt liabilities, as well as to the continuity of President Dmitry Medvedev’s policies.

RBC, 21.07.2008, Moscow 11:36:47.Retail sales grew 15.2 percent to just shy of RUB 6.237 trillion (approx. USD 268.95bn) in the first half of 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier, Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported. In June, retail sales increased 13.8 percent to over RUB 1.128 trillion (approx. USD 48.64bn).

RBC, 21.07.2008, Moscow 15:27:46.The Russian government’s external debt, including that of the former Soviet Union which was acknowledged by Russia, decreased 8.6 percent to $41bn in the first half of 2008 compared to $44.9bn as of January 1, 2008, Russia’s Finance Ministry said in a report today. Debt to member states of the Paris Club fell 16 percent to $1.5bn as of July 1, while non-Paris Club debt shrank 9 percent to $2bn.