Russian News: March 4th, 2008!

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 12:58:39.Gazprom invited independent observers from a specialized company SGS to control natural gas supplies in Ukraine, official spokesman for the Russian energy holding Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists today. However, he pointed out that the country’s authorities did not allow the observers to monitor gas supplies at Ukraine’s gas metering stations.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 12:24:12.Russian President Vladimir Putin is to remain the leader of the United Russia party after the new President’s inauguration ceremony, State Duma Speaker and United Russia’s Chairman Boris Gryzlov told journalists today. He reiterated that Putin had topped United Russia’s candidate list during the previous State Duma elections. Gryzlov noted that the party was currently reviewing step-by-step plans to carry out the development strategy until 2020 outlined by Putin.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 11:19:01.Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov is to head the government council for small business development, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said during today’s meeting with the country’s leading economists. He reiterated that the decision on the creation of the council was made following Friday’s meeting with representatives of small and medium size businesses. Efficient working groups for the elimination of barriers for businesses in various economic sectors need to be formed within the council, Zubkov noted. The PM urged Zhukov to begin council meetings within a week and make them monthly.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 11:15:14.Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port (NCSP) majority shareholders affiliated with Russian businessman Alexander Ponomarenko are poised to acquire a 50-percent stake in a container terminal that is currently under construction near St. Petersburg, the RBC Daily newspaper reported today. Until now, the project worth EUR 300m fully belonged to one of the world’s largest container operators MSC. Meanwhile, the shareholders of Russia’s largest commercial sea port operator decided to increase the terminal’s projected annual capacity from 2.5m tonnes to 8m tonnes. NCSP’s participation in the project is likely to give it a boost, experts say.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 10:46:11.At today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the low and the high on deals stood at 24.04 and 24.05 RUB/USD respectively, making the spread on deals just RUB 0.01. The narrow spread does not suggest any speculative play at the session. In addition, trading activity has been fairly low as well possibly due to inconsiderable fluctuations of the euro-to-dollar rate abroad, with the trading volume below USD 100m at the UTS.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Chisinau 09:57:54.Fixed investment in Moldova surged 43.3 percent to $300m in 2007 compared to a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics told RBC. Foreign fixed investment accounted for 22.1 percent of the total. Investment growth was largely due to the activities of the non-government sector, which received around 72.7 percent of the total input.

RBC, 04.03.2008, Moscow 09:36:10.Russia’s Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is scheduled to meet today with the nation’s top economists to address the role of the scientific community in drafting Russia’s development strategy until 2020. Scientists will explain the measures they view as necessary to diversify the economy and foster innovation. The meeting is to be attended by President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yury Osipov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Abel Aganbegian, Rector of the New Economic School Sergei Guriyev, Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Dynkin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Sergei Naryshkin, Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina, Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko and heads of other ministries, agencies and research organizations.

RBC, 03.03.2008, Moscow 19:55:37.Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill approving amendments to the 2008 federal budget and estimates for 2009 and 2010, passed by the State Duma on February 15 and endorsed by the Federation Council on February 20, the leader’s press office reported.

RBC, 03.03.2008, Kiev 19:24:40.Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has called on the national government to ensure there is no ‘gas war’ with Russia. The leader made this statement at a meeting with Supreme Rada Speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko today, the President’s press office reported.

RBC, 03.03.2008, Moscow 18:30:56.Russia’s National Welfare Fund amounted to RUB 777.03bn, or USD 32.22bn in dollar terms, including USD 14.31bn, EUR 9.74bn, and GBP 1.62bn as of March 1, the Finance Ministry reported today. Meanwhile, earnings from investing the fund’s reserves from January 30 until February 29, 2008 have been estimated at USD 240m.

RBC, 03.03.2008, Kiev 17:45:55.Gazprom has cut its natural gas exports to Ukraine by 35 percent, or 46m cubic meters per day, spokesman for Naftogaz of Ukraine Valentin Zemlyansky told journalists today. He said that the Russian energy holding had sent the republic’s state-owned oil and gas company two telegrams announcing a 25-percent and a 10-percent cut, respectively.

RBC, 03.03.2008, Moscow 15:34:25.The Russian stock market is likely to reach a new record low in the next two weeks, experts told RBC TV today. The preliminary results of Russia’s presidential elections were expected and already factored into share prices before today, experts say. Meanwhile, poor financial performance of a number of US suppliers caused investor concerns over the possibility of Russian stocks’ decline. However, analysts note that, if the US economy stabilizes, the Russian market can look better than foreign trading floors thanks to positive election results and macroeconomic conditions.

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