Russian News: November 11th, 2008!

Hot News!RBC, 11.11.2008, Moscow 10:21:15.The Russian government plans to modify the formula for setting oil and oil product export duties by the end of November, Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko stated yesterday. The amendments have already been worked out. As soon as they are enacted, export duties will be revised monthly based on oil prices within just one month, rather than the current two-month period. The government’s orders setting the duties will also, therefore, be issued on a monthly basis, Shmatko elaborated.

RBC, 11.11.2008, Moscow 10:45:52.VimpelCom is planning to sign a strategic partnership agreement with a united mobile phone retail holding, which will effectively incorporate Svyaznoy and Tsifrograd, two sources close to the retailers reported today. VTB will then become one of the holding’s shareholders, as it has already agreed to purchase 15 percent of shares for $100m, the RBC Daily newspaper reported today. The partnership agreement will allow VimpelCom to avoid the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service’s restrictions that resulted from the company’s deal with Euroset, analysts say.

RBC, 11.11.2008, Moscow 09:57:57.Russia’s Finance, Economy and Energy Ministries came up with a proposal yesterday to get the period by which oil export duties are calculated down to one month. The proposal was voiced yesterday by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his meeting with representatives of oil companies. According to the PM, the duties should reflect current prices. He stressed that the global financial crisis, instability on global markets and a fall in prices called for measures to ensure the sustained development of the oil industry. Since the current oil duty setting formula has been designed only for a predictable market situation, it naturally must be altered now that oil prices are swinging violently.

RBC, 10.11.2008, Kiev 18:56:51.Ukraine and Russia are not planning to use formulas for gas price calculations for 2009, chairman of the board of Naftogaz of Ukraine Oleg Dubina told a press conference today. He pointed out that the price of gas would be set on the basis of agreements between companies, adding that they would be economically feasible. The official noted that Ukraine had to ensure the payment of gas debts within the country, indicating that the company could not pay off its own debts because of consumers’ debts. Dubina also does not rule out the possibility of the company’s default, stressing that consumers owed a whopping $35m.

RBC, 10.11.2008, Moscow 16:09:17.The Federation Council’s related committees recommend that the Russian parliament’s upper house approve agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and Abkhazia and Russia and South Ossetia, member of the Federation Council’s legal and court issues committee Amir Gallyamov told journalists, noting that the upper house is set to consider the documents at a plenary session on Wednesday.

RBC, 10.11.2008, Moscow 15:05:50.There are no signs that European nations are going to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s envoy to the EU, stated during a live TV link-up between Brussels and Moscow. He noted that despite a certain variance of opinions and assessments of the Caucasus conflict throughout European countries, the EU had adopted a single position regarding the independence of the two republics, and had so far given no signals that the position could be revised. Chizhov added that the stability in Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be brought up at the upcoming Russia-EU summit in Nice on November 14, 2008. The matter, however, is more likely to become an issue for discussion than a “stumbling block,” Chizhov observed.

RBC, 10.11.2008, Moscow 13:05:58.The government has approved the placement of money from the Russian Reserve Fund in the International Monetary Fund’s debt instruments. The corresponding changes were made to the government’s decree on the management of the Reserve Fund. As a result, the funds can be placed in special drawing rights, which the IMF considers when forming and changing Russia’s reserve position with the funds. Meanwhile, the total sum transferred during such a transaction cannot be lower than that provided for by the IMF as a minimum sum required for setting an interest rate for using these funds.

RBC, 10.11.2008, Moscow 12:50:42.Russian stocks will be rising this week, Marina Samokhvalova, an analyst at Kapital Investment Group, told RBC TV. The positive trend can only be broken by U.S. retail data, which will be published in the middle of the week, as well as a number of retailers’ reports, which are expected to be below expectations. “Yet, the overall situation on the market became positive following the election of the new American president last week, and this sentiment is expected to remain for this week, too,” she said.