Iran, Russia to Replace Dollar with Rial, Ruble in Trade

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Jan. 10 – Iran and Russia have replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies in bilateral trade, Iran’s Fars News Agency reports, citing Seyed Reza Sajjadi, Tehran’s Ambassador to Moscow.

Speaking to Fars, Sajjadi said that the proposal for replacing the U.S. dollar was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Astana on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting June, 2011. Continue reading…

Russian Tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov to Run Against Vladimir Putin

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Dec. 14 – Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov said on Monday he will run against Vladimir Putin for president next year. Expert opinions on Prokhorov’s decision are divided: some of them believe the New Jersey Nets basketball team owner’s move has been inspired by the Kremlin, while others sees it as his second attempt to come into Russian politics.

Prokhorov, a 46-year-old metals tycoon who is chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold producer, also holds a stake in the aluminum giant RUSAL, and has declared himself a “champion of the middle class.” He has also said he is already working to create a grassroots political party to counter “populist tricks” and promote open dialogue within civil society. Continue reading…

Political Risk to Rise in Post Electoral Russia

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Dec. 12 – Political uncertainty and the prospect of more large protests are adding an extra layer of concern for foreign investors in Russia.

The MICEX Index tumbled 4.7 percent Tuesday after the first gathering of protestors last Monday evening and the transfer of additional Interior Ministry troops to the Russian capital.

Fear hit the market again on Friday as investors sold on the eve of what may be Russia’s largest demonstration in years near the Kremlin on Saturday. The RTS slipped 4.3 percent on Friday, compared with a 2 percent drop for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and little movement in Brent crude prices. The ruble dropped against the dollar and the euro. Continue reading…

The Conventional Victory of Putin’s Party

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Dec. 7 – Vladimir Putin’s United Russia achieved a conventional victory in last weekend’s parliament election, winning 49.5 percent of Sunday’s vote for the State Duma, down from 64.3 percent in 2007, the last full year of Putin’s second Kremlin term, according to the Central Election Commission.

The party that has dominated the 450-seat Duma since 2003 had its majority cut from 315 seats to about 238. Continue reading…

Pros and Cons of Russia’s WTO Membership

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Nov. 18 – After roughly 18 years of membership talks, Russia finally looks set to enter the World Trade Organization on favorable conditions, both Russian and international analysts say noting the minor import tariff cuts.

The final barrier keeping Russia from the global trade club fell when Russia and Georgia signed an agreement approving Russia’s WTO entry on November 9 in Geneva, after both agreed on international monitoring of the disputed crossings with the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Continue reading…

Restrictions for Russian Entities Listing Abroad to Last Until 2013

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Nov. 14 – Restrictions on Russian companies that want to list equity on foreign exchanges will not be lifted until a central security depositary is fully implemented, Federal Financial Markets Service (FFSM) Head Dmitry Pankin said on Thursday.

Speaking at a Deutsche Bank forum, Pankin said the restrictions on foreign listings could only be removed after a long-anticipated central securities depositary had been fully established, Russian daily Vedomosti reported.

“After the implementation of the central depositary, we will remove the 25 percent limitations,” he said. Continue reading…

Russia Set to Return to Deep Space after 15 Years

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Nov. 9 – Russia is preparing for a historic return to deep space with the launch of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft on Wednesday on an ambitious and risky three-year US$163 million mission to bring back a soil sample from the Red Planet.

The launch is scheduled for 12:16 a.m. Moscow time this Wednesday (20.16 GMT Tuesday), Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) reports. The Zenit-2SB rocket with the Phobos-Grunt mission is set to launch from the Baikonur Space Center located in Kazakhstan. Continue reading…

Russian Companies to Break into Brazilian Market

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Nov. 8 – The Russian gas giant Gazprom opened an office in Rio de Janeiro last week, while another Russian oil producer TNK-BP announced an agreement to buy 45 percent of the Solimoes Basin project for US$1 billion from the Brazilian HRT Participacoes em Petroleo.

TNK-BP and HRT Participacoes em Petroleo will jointly produce oil and gas from fields near the Amazon, with first output expected next year.

“The discovery of major hydrocarbon deposits in Latin America and the high growth rates of natural gas consumption there provide for an effective development of partnership relations,” The Moscow Times reported a Gazprom official as saying. Continue reading…

Walt Disney to Air in Russia

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Nov. 1 – Walt Disney Co., owner of ABC television, has agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in Russia’s Seven TV network owned by United TV Holdings and will rename it the Disney Channel. The deal was announced at the meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President and CEO of Walt Disney Co. Robert Iger.

“International expansion is a key strategic priority for our company and Disney Channel has proven to be invaluable in building the Disney brand around the world,” Robert Iger said in a statement. Continue reading…

Anti-Monopoly Package to Legalize Current Regulation Trends

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Oct. 14 – The so-called third anti-monopoly package “On Amendments to the Federal Law On Protection of Competition and Certain Other Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation,” passed by the lower house of Parliament (State Duma) in the third and final reading.

The package developed by the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and approved by the presidium of the cabinet in June includes two draft laws amending the law about competitiveness protection, the Criminal Code, the Code about the Administrative Violations and a range of the other legislative acts, according to reports by RIA Novosti. Continue reading…

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