Inplainview News Weblog - 2013: Russia

2013-09-02 Ye. Albats may resign as the editor of The New Times novayagazeta.ru

lenta.ru


2013-08-19 Alexander Brod: Konstantin Ponomarev is responsible for Magnitskiy's death polit.ru

slon.ru
pravorf.org


2013-08-13 Navalny found the flat of Sobyanin's elder daughter fontanka.ru


2013-08-12 M.Gessen. Pussy Riot - Solzhenitsyn of our time newtimes.ru


2013-08-09 L.Tagayeva. The story of Sobyanin's flat slon.ru


2013-08-09 Navalny found Sobyanin's daughter's flat lenta.ru


2013-08-07 Tesak fights Navalny polit.ru


2013-07-28 Courtney Weaver. Co-founder of Russian search engine Yandex dies suddenly ft.com

Ilya Segalovich, the co-founder and chief technical director of Russian search engine Yandex, died on Saturday after being taken off life-support. He was 48.
Segalovich had been in a coma since Wednesday, said Arkady Volozh, his Yandex co-founder and former school classmate. Yandex initially announced Segalovich’s death on Thursday, but then retracted its statement after Segalovich’s family decided to keep the entrepreneur on life support.
Mr Volozh said that his co-founder had been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer in September. Though doctors had given him “zero chances of survival”, his body responded well to the drugs and the cancer disappeared.
Segalovich resumed his workload, travelling to Istanbul as recently as 10 days ago, where Yandex has started its own Turkish search engine. But last week doctors detected a malignant brain tumour. Segalovich fell into a coma within 48 hours.
Together with Mr Volozh, Segalovich is credited with starting one of Russia’s biggest and most successful internet companies, which continues to have over twice the market share of Google in its home country.
In addition to being the company’s chief technical officer, Segalovich had a 2.5 per financial stake and 6.9 per cent voting stake in the company. He is to be buried in Moscow this week.


2013-07-23 Russian Government to ban small farms from keeping pigs palm.newsru.com


2013-07-19 Charles Clover. Russia: The retreat from Moscow ft.com

To outside observers, President Vladimir Putin presides over a Byzantine court that rarely makes mistakes or, at least, rarely admits them.
But even to those inclined to give Mr Putin the benefit of the doubt, it appears that he made a colossal miscalculation on Thursday when a court in the provincial district of Kirov sentenced Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader and blogger, to five years in prison on charges of embezzlement.
Some of Russia’s elite believe that the severity of the sentence was a sign that Mr Putin, who has been tightening the screws on the opposition since he returned to the presidency in May 2012, has gone too far and that the punishment was a sign of desperation rather than resolve. Mr Putin had “passed the point of no return”, according to Sergei Aleksashenko, an economist and former deputy governor of the central bank.
While the Kremlin denies that it influences the courts, there is a widespread belief that the case was politically motivated. Any lingering doubt about the government’s role has disappeared after a bizarre turn of events late on Thursday that led to Mr Navalny walking free on Friday.
Exactly what happened in the seven hours between Mr Navalny’s sentencing in Kirov and the prosecutors’ announcement that they would free him is hard to determine.
Some argue that he has been released in the expectation that he will be defeated in the mayoral election. This would then give greater legitimacy to the incumbent, Sergei Sobyanin, who is loyal to Mr Putin. “They wanted [Navalny] to run without being able to campaign and get 5 per cent, like a straw man,” says Mr Volkov. “We reject that. We will only run if he is free to campaign.”
“The people who indisputedly own Russia and run it are for some reason going to great lengths to help so that the person we all called a blogger yesterday will become the first person of the Russian state tomorrow,” Oleg Kashin, the influential Moscow journalist, wrote on Friday, hailing Mr Navalny as “the next president of Russia”.
Another view is that such theories exaggerate the depth of logic underpinning the whole affair. Mr Putin’s leadership is considered as increasingly erratic and the president betrays signs that he is sinking into the condition that Gabriel García Márquez termed the “solitude of power”. The Colombian writer contends that a long-time ruler convinced of his own infallibility will ultimately descend into a personal labyrinth of delusion in which his inner circle does not tell him the truth.
That sense of invincibility has been reinforced by Mr Putin’s ability to weather bouts of international outrage provoked by cases in which opponents, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon, and Pussy Riot, the rock group, have been sent to prison.
Since his return for a third term as president, Mr Putin has displayed more of the paranoia associated with longstanding rulers. After 12 straight years as Russia’s paramount, unquestioned leader, the regime has begun a harsh crackdown on the opposition, including the posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer, on a decade-old charge of tax evasion.
In another dubious move that portrayed Russia on the international stage as a hostage to an unhinged vengeful autocrat, Mr Putin denied dozens if not hundreds of Russian orphans the chance of family life by imposing a ban on adoption by US citizens in December.
Wilder rhetoric has also become a staple on the nightly news. In April, Mr Putin told a national television audience during a call-in show that the US had invented al-Qaeda. During a meeting with the English language TV channel Russia Today, he scolded the US state department for funding opposition rallies. When the main state TV channel ran an editorial item claiming the US and al-Qaeda had formed a “strategic alliance” in the Middle East, the US embassy in Moscow was forced to tweet a denial.
...the phenomenon of Mr Navalny already shows that many in the elite are placing side bets on him, says Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin political consultant. “Navalny is very good at exploiting the contradictions in the ruling clans in order to gain influence as a leader,” he says. “Navalny is using the fights for his own purposes.”


2013-07-11 PAUL SONNE. Russian Court Finds Investor and His Dead Lawyer Guilty online.wsj.com

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced U.S.-born fund manager William Browder in absentia to nine years in prison for tax evasion and posthumously returned a guilty verdict on similar charges against his lawyer, in a case that Kremlin critics say has come to symbolize Russia's abuse of the legal process.
The lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after revealing evidence he said showed how police and security officials in Russia had committed a $230 million fraud, allegedly by stealing taxes that Mr. Browder's fund had paid to the government.
Russian authorities subsequently revived a previously-closed tax evasion case against Messrs. Magnitsky and Browder that led to Thursday's verdict. Moscow's Tverskoi Court, which opted to continue hearings in the case against Mr. Magnitsky even after his death at age 37, didn't issue a sentence for the late lawyer on Thursday.
Mr. Browder's experience for many has become a symbol of corruption and lawlessness in Russia and has fueled tension with the U.S. and other Western countries, which have rallied behind the fund manager and frequently criticized the Kremlin's handling of the case.
The posthumous verdict against Mr. Magnitsky "is a symbolic act showing the level of human rights violations in Russia and the deteriorating situation of ensuring human rights in Russia," Dalia Grybauskaitė, president of Lithuania, which took up the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union this month, said in a news conference in Vilnius.
It "gives a disturbing message to those who fight corruption in Russia," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs. In a statement, she said the verdict "does not provide any answer to the real questions regarding the death of Mr. Magnitsky."
Mr. Magnitsky's death became the basis for the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law passed by Congress late last year banning Russian officials allegedly involved in Mr. Magnitsky's death or other human-rights violations from entering the U.S. or holding American assets.
The law ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and Russia, particularly after Russia responded by banning Americans from adopting Russian children and releasing its own list of U.S. officials barred from Russia on account of alleged human-rights abuses.


2013-07-09 Russian air lines will be allowed to hire foreign pilots ato.ru


2013-07-06 T.Rotanova. Ex-finnancial minister of Moscow A.Kuznetsov detained in France kommersant.ru


2013-07-03 M-L Tirmaste. CPRF to leave Duma because of RAS reform kommersant.ru


2013-07-01 Yu.Matsarskiy, S.Galyandin. Yuriy Dudaev - Surkov's father izvestia.ru


2013-06-30 Where Ilya Yashin gets his money ntv.ru


2013-06-29 Who enlists Russians for the war in Syria sobesednik.ru


2013-06-24 Professor of Economics Tamara Morshakova will be interviewed by the investigators of the YUKOS case lenta.ru


2013-06-22 Office of "For the Human Rights" stormed lenta.ru


2013-06-19 A.Voronov. Udaltsov charged with organizing the riots kommersant.ru


2013-06-13 I.Nagornyh. UPF Congress held in Moscow kommersant.ru


2013-06-11 Russian Duma passes law banning 'gay propaganda' bbc.co.uk

Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.
The measure was passed unanimously and will become law when approved by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin, a virtual formality.
Gay rights campaigners clashed with anti-gay activists outside the Duma.
The lower house also passed a bill imposing up to three years in jail on those who offend religious believers.
The law comes in the wake of the imprisoning of members of the punk band Pussy Riot for performing an anti-Putin protest in an Orthodox cathedral in February 2012.
Two band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are currently serving two-year jail terms.
Violence between rival protesters spread onto Moscow's central street on Tuesday, reports the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in the capital.
Orthodox believers demonstrated their support for the new law
Gay rights campaigners were attacked and there were no police to stop the violence, says our correspondent. When one group ran into a shop to take refuge, their attackers waited and then ran in to find them.
Under the new law, private individuals promoting "homosexual behaviour among minors" face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£100; $155) while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Businesses and schools could be fined up to 500,000 roubles.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is high.
A recent poll found that nearly half of Russians believe that the gay and lesbian community should not enjoy the same rights as other citizens.


2013-06-11 V.Putin on Russia Today kremlin.ru


2013-06-09 N.Roszhkova. UNF Manifesto: Sovereign, but not democratic mk.ru


2013-06-06 KIRIT RADIA. Chess Grand Master Garry Kasparov Is Latest Russian to Flee abcnews.go.com

Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov has fled his country because he says he fears political persecution if he stays.
"I kept traveling back and forth until late February, where it became clear that I might be part of this ongoing investigation of the activities of the political protesters," Kasparov told a press conference at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, where he was receiving an award.
"Right now I have serious doubts that if I return to Moscow I may be able to travel back. So for the time being I refrain from returning to Russia," he said.
Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who has been called the face of the protest movement, is facing corruption charges that had previously been dismissed. Sergei Udaltsov, a left-wing activist, is under house arrest after being charged with instigating violence at a rally on the eve of Putin's inauguration last spring.
Today, a trial began against a dozen Russians accused of fighting police during that rally. Exactly who started the fighting in Bolotnaya Square is unclear. Kasparov was at the front of that march and was detained, but has not yet been charged with anything. But riot police clashed with the protesters on the eve of Putin's inauguration. By the end of the afternoon, hundreds of protesters had been arrested and several police helmets were bobbing in the nearby river.
Other high profile Russians who have fled the country fearing they are about to be targeted for what they say are political reasons include Sergei Guriev.
bbc.co.uk


2013-06-06 Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin divorce lenta.ru

lenta.ru
kommersant.ru


2013-06-05 Patriarch used the state jet for his visit to China lenta.ru


2013-06-04 EGE exams on sale nr2.ru


2013-05-29 GREGORY L.WHITE, ALEXANDER KOLYANDR. Prominent Russian Economist Flees Country online.wsj.com

A top Russian economist and government adviser abruptly stepped down from his posts and left the country amid pressure on him from investigators, people familiar with the situation said Tuesday.
Sergei Guriev was among the most prominent of a series of Russians to leave the country over the past year since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency and his government embarked on a new crackdown on critics.
Mr. Guriev departed as investigators probed his role in a case linked to the controversial prosecution of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the people said.
But while Mr. Guriev frequently attacked the Kremlin for its repressive tactics and publicly supported the regime's opponents, he was long considered a loyalist, regularly participating in top-level government advisory panels and conferences, as well as the boards of state companies.
He is also the dean of the New Economic School, a Moscow-based university that was recognized as one of Russia's best, with graduates that included top government officials. President Barack Obama spoke at the school when he visited Moscow in 2009. Mr. Guriev tendered his resignation from that post this week, said people familiar with his decision. A spokeswoman for the school said the institution hasn't yet received Mr. Guriev's resignation, he remains dean and is on vacation.
On Tuesday, OAO Sberbank, the state-controlled banking giant, said Mr. Guriev had pulled his name from the slate for re-election to its board of directors. Reached in France, where his wife and children have lived for several years, Mr. Guriev cited "personal circumstances" for his departure from the bank.
Mr. Guriev, who frequently appeared with top officials such as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, also was scheduled to be a speaker at next month's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Kremlin's showcase event for foreign business. He has canceled those plans, said a government official.
"If Mr. Guriev feels that he has to leave Russia, that is a true disaster for the country," said Anders Aslund, a Russia specialist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Mr. Guriev also was one of the few prominent Russians to openly support opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is now on trial for embezzlement. Mr. Guriev said publicly he and his wife had donated 10,000 rubles ($320) to Mr. Navalny's anticorruption fund last year. Mr. Navalny has called the charges a fabrication and a political witch hunt.
forbes.ru
itar-tass.com
vedomosti.ru
snob.ru
novayagazeta.ru
lenta.ru


2013-05-21 Ye.Vinokurova. Skolkovogate and Surkov gazeta.ru

“Apple wasn’t satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven,” said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that is holding the public hearing Tuesday into Apple’s use of tax havens. “Apple successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.”
Thanks to what lawmakers called “gimmicks” and “schemes,” Apple was able to largely sidestep taxes on tens of billions of dollars it earned outside the United States in recent years. Last year, international operations accounted for 61 percent of Apple’s total revenue.
Investigators have not accused Apple of breaking any laws and the company is hardly the only American multinational to face scrutiny for using complex corporate structures and tax havens to sidestep taxes. In recent months, revelations from European authorities about the tax avoidance strategies used by Google, Starbucks and Amazon have all stirred public anger and spurred several European governments, as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based research organization for the world’s richest countries, to discuss measures to close the loopholes.


2013-05-20 SHAUN WALKER. Alexander Lebedev says charges are 'fabricated' independent.co.uk

The businessman Alexander Lebedev told a Russian court that he did not understand the accusations against him of “hooliganism motivated by political hatred” that could see him jailed for up to five years.
Mr Lebedev, who is the financial backer of The Independent, told the judge at Moscow’s Ostakinsky District Court that the accusations against him are “completely fabricated” and “incomprehensible”.
Mr Lebedev is standing trial for an incident on a televised chat show in 2011 in which he punched the property tycoon Sergei Polonsky during a debate on the international financial crisis.
Mr Lebedev says he was provoked by Mr Polonsky, who he says was verbally threatening him and behaving provocatively. The prosecution alleges his punch was a hate crime, motivated by “hatred of a political class”. The political hatred dimension to the accusations is key as it means that the jail sentence for a guilty verdict could be measured in years rather than weeks.
mk.ru


2013-05-17 Top managers of Rosbank under arrest lenta.ru

kommersant.ru


2013-05-16 Katya Golubkova, Douglas Busvine. CEO of SocGen's Russia unit faces seven years on bribery allegations reuters.com

The head of Societe Generale's (SOGN.PA) Russian unit Rosbank faced up to seven years in jail for bribery on Thursday after Russian investigators released a film of him with cash piled on his desk in what several bankers said may have been a set up.
The case could increase alarm among international investors and sheds a damaging light on business practices in Russia, where SocGen is one of the few Western banks left in a market dominated by homegrown state players.
Investigators said on Thursday they had opened an official criminal investigation against Vladimir Golubkov, who was detained on Wednesday, and his senior vice president, Tamara Polyanitsyna - a final step before formally charging them.
Golubkov, 47, worked through the ranks at Rosbank to take the helm in 2008 with the task of steering the bank into profit.


2013-05-14 Navalniy on his case top.rbc.ru


2013-05-08 64 billionaires live in Moscow lenta.ru

In NYC - 70
In Russia - 131


2013-05-08 I.Safronov, S.Samokhina, Yu.Sapronova. V.Surkov resigns kommersant.ru

05/07 Gen.Malkin blantly answers Surkov
lenta.ru
forbes.ru


2013-04-30 Gessen Resigns As RFE/RL Russian Service Director rferl.org

Masha Gessen, director of the Russian-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) for the past seven months, today announced her resignation from the position to begin work on a new book.
"Masha Gessen is an award-winning journalist who will continue to bring her insight, energy and activism to journalism -- in the interest of civil society in Russia," said RFE/RL Acting President and CEO Kevin Klose.
colta.ru


2013-04-30 Kuraev on Muslim clerics and Muslim terrorism lenta.ru


2013-04-29 Alferov accuses Chubais of Rosnano problems lenta.ru


2013-04-29 K.Sugrobov. Will tax amnesty work? lenta.ru

S.Gafurov. The importance of being attractive for the investors


2013-04-28 O.Gerasimenko. K.Lebedev: I don't feel I am a traitor kommersant.ru


2013-04-24 Former anti-drug chief Akopyan detained sledcom.ru


2013-04-24 St.Belkovsky. Is Skolkovo project dead? mk.ru


2013-04-23 Gangster Batukaev released from Kirgiz jail rosbalt.ru


2013-04-22 Lebedev provides evidence against Razvozzhaev and Udaltsov kommersant.ru


2013-04-19 Zhirinovsky's case against Ponomarev and Skolkovo lenta.ru


2013-04-18 Ilya Arkhipov. Russian Anti-Putin Protest Leader Navalny Faces New Fraud Probe bloomberg.com

Russia opened a fourth criminal case against Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who helped lead the biggest protests of President Vladimir Putin’s 13-year rule.
Navalny and his brother are suspected of organizing a 3.8 million-ruble ($120,000) fraud involving mail deliveries in 2008, according to a statement posted today on the Investigative Committee’s website.
“These allegations are absurd,” Anna Veduta, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said by phone. “This is their reaction to the massive public support that we’re receiving.”
Navalny, 36, already faces as much as 10 years in prison over charges that he defrauded a state timber company in the Kirov region. Navalny denies any wrongdoing, calling the trial payback for arranging a series of anti-government demonstrations that began after parliamentary elections in December 2011.
A court in Kirov, 900 kilometers (560 miles) northeast of Moscow, postponed a hearing yesterday until April 24 to give the defendants time to study the case.


2013-04-18 Searches in Skolkovo itar-tass.com

itar-tass.com


2013-04-12 Avtovaz and Sovkomflot may lose money in Cyprus top.rbc.ru


2013-04-12 Driver licences sold in Moscow lenta.ru


2013-04-08 P.Ivanenko. Guerilla war in the blogging market stringer-news.com


2013-04-03 McFaul gets a list of American intelligence officers in Russian NGOs regnum.ru


2013-04-03 N.Chekhovsky. Rosnano lost 22 bln roubles weandworld.ru


2013-04-01 Russian billionaires benefit from TNK-BP deal lenta.ru


2013-03-31 Berezovsky's letter to Putin confirmed echo.msk.ru


2013-03-31 Deputy rector of MEI arrested for bribery newsru.com


2013-03-25 Post-mortem says Boris Berezovsky death 'consistent with hanging' independent.co.uk

A post-mortem examination on Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky has found he was hanged, police said tonight.
The examination by a Home Office pathologist found nothing to indicate a violent struggle, a spokesman for Thames Valley Police said.
Further tests are now due to be carried out on the body of Mr Berezovsky, 67, who was found dead in his country home in Mill Lane, Ascot, Berkshire, on Saturday.
The results of the tests, including toxicology and histology examinations, were likely to take several weeks, police said.
Mr Berezovsky's body was moved from his home overnight and forensic examination of the property is expected to take several days.
Police said they have found no evidence that anyone else was involved in his death, but there has been widespread speculation over what had happened.


2013-03-24 Former Yukos co-owner: London verdict on Berezovsky was wrong lenta.ru


2013-03-23 Mark Townsend, Simon Goodley. Boris Berezovsky found dead guardian.co.uk

The Russian oligarch and fierce Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky has been found dead in his Surrey home at the age of 67.
The circumstances of his death were unclear, although there were unconfirmed claims that the former power-broker of Russian politics had killed himself.
Berezovsky's death comes only months after he lost a high-profile and personally disastrous court case against fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. He had accused the Chelsea football club owner of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract in relation to a Russian oil company. After the claims were dismissed, he was ordered by the high court to pay £35m of Abramovich's legal costs.
His financial difficulties were recently further exacerbated after his former mistress Elena Gorbunova, 43, claimed that Berezovsky owed her $8m (£5m) in compensation over the sale of their $40m residence in Surrey.
News of Berezovsky's death emerged on a Facebook post that appeared to have been made by his son-in-law, Egor Schuppe. According to the post, Berezovsky was recently depressed and had failed to keep in touch with friends, often choosing to stay at home rather than socialise.
Aleksandr Dobrovinksy, head of the Moscow-based Alexander Dobrovinsky & Partners law firm, claimed on his social network page that the 67-year-old former billionaire had killed himself. The statement read: "Just got a call from London. Boris Berezovsky committed suicide. He was a difficult man. A move of disparity? Impossible to live poor? A strike of blows? I am afraid no one will get to know now."Berezovsky had become a colourful and controversial figure in London life, firing off regular salvos at his nemesis in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin. But his decision to take on the financial might of his former protege, Abramovich proved a grievous error.
The case left Berezovsky's reputation in tatters, as the high court judge ruling in the case described him as an "inherently unreliable witness", who was "deliberately dishonest" and viewed truth as a "transitory, flexible concept".
Berezovsky's legal bill is thought to have generated total fees of over £100m.
Details from the second high court battle in January, with Gorbunova, heard how his former partner of 20 years won a freezing order, reported to be $200m, on Berezovsky's assets after they split up last year amid claims he owed her money and was in dire financial straits.
The asset freeze was thought to include two luxury properties Berezovsky was allegedly trying to sell in France which, she maintained, were promised to her.
Evidence that the businessman was in serious financial difficulties also surfaced with recent reports that the exiled oligarch was attempting to auction off an Andy Warhol limited-edition portrait of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in the hope of paying off creditors and legal bills.
The 1987 portrait by the Pop Art pioneer has been estimated by Christie's to be worth between $45,000 and $75,000.
A Kremlin insider in the days of Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky left Russia in the late 1990s after a money-laundering scandal involving Aeroflot airlines and has been the subject of an extradition order by Russia. He has appeared on Moscow's most wanted list since 2001 on charges of fraud, money-laundering and attempted interference in the Russian political process. A Russian court sentenced Berezovsky in absentia for embezzling $2bn from two major state companies. Moscow has repeatedly requested his extradition although British authorities have not complied.
In 2007, Berezovsky said he had been told to leave England by British police for his own safety after the British security services claimed they had evidence of an assassination plot against him.
nytimes.com
lenta.ru


2013-03-22 Members of President's Administration suspend United Russia membership izvestia.ru


2013-03-20 Provocations during Bolotnaya protests rbcdaily.ru


2013-03-14 Navalny: Sen.Malkin has Israeli citizenship and business in Canada lenta.ru

news.nationalpost.com
lenta.ru


2013-03-13 Moody's estimates risks of Russian banks in Cyprus as $43-53B forbes.ru


2013-03-12 Putin suggests Nabibullina to lead the Central Bank lenta.ru


2013-03-11 Tatarstan authorities capitulate before the Wahhabis sp-analytic.ru


2013-03-08 Foo Yun Chee. Rosneft moves closer to TNK-BP deal with EU clearance reuters.com

Russian oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM) moved closer to finalizing its $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP State-owned Rosneft is buying TNK-BP from private Russian group AAR and British oil company BP (BP.L) in two separate deals that will help it leapfrog world No. 1 Exxon Mobil (XOM.N).
Reuters last week reported the European Commission was expected to give unconditional approval.
The EU antitrust authority said in a statement that its investigation did not find any competition concerns.
lenta.ru


2013-03-08 I.Ashamnov. What is the reason of Livejournal glitches? m.forbes.ru


2013-03-05 Charles Clover. Brauder accused of fraud ft.com

Russia authorities are seeking to charge former investor and shareholder activist Bill Browder with illegally obtaining Gazprom shares worth $70m, interior ministry officials announced on Tuesday.
The American fund manager based in London said the allegations were yet another attempt to intimidate him as he campaigns for Europe to adopt US-style legislation barring Russian human rights violators known as the “Magnitsky Law” named for Mr Browder’s former lawyer who died in a Russian prison in 2009.
The announcement that charges would be brought against Mr Browder followed a well-tested formula in Russia, where criminal indictments usually follow denunciation on state television. Russian network First Channel on Sunday night devoted a seven-minute slot to Mr Browder’s financial dealings in Russia prior to his ejection from the country in 2005.
The allegations themselves focus on whether Mr Browder violated any Russian laws when his fund, Hermitage Capital, used Russian companies registered in the region of Kalmykia to purchase shares in the gas monopoly between 2001 and 2004. At the time, according to presidential decree, foreigners were barred from directly owning Gazprom shares, but many funds used Russian derivative structures to play the market nonetheless.
“Browder used specially developed schemes according to which foreign companies bought liquid shares in the name of Russian legal entities, registered in zones with special tax treatment,” said Mikhail Alexandrov from the Interior Ministry's Investigative Department on Tuesday. He also accused Mr Browder of seeking to use share holdings in Gazprom to gain a seat on the board, and to exercise influence at the gas monopoly.
Formal charges against Mr Browder would be filed in a matter of days, Mr Alexandrov said.
Mr Browder, a shareholder activist, has never denied seeking to influence Gazprom, but he insists that his actions were legal. “In 2000 and 2004 we ran very high-profile campaigns to stop the massive theft at Gazprom. We did this through forensic investigations into the theft and proxy campaigns for a seat on the board,” he said on Tuesday.
He added that the financial arrangements he made to buy Gazprom shares and to pay taxes on them were commonplace and, moreover, entirely legal. “If one took these accusations seriously, then every foreign investor in Russia should be under arrest,” Mr Browder said.
interfax.ru


2013-02-27 M.Sokolov. Pseudo-Cossack General detained gazeta.ru


2013-02-26 Lebedev promotes his 1-year son to the Directors Board of Aeroflot forbes.ru

iarex.ru


2013-02-18 131 Russian billionaires in 2012 ceo.ru

131 Russian billionaires are worth $450B


2013-02-18 Serdyukov's relative leaves Russia lenta.ru


2013-02-16 Tariq Malik. Russian Meteor Blast Bigger Than Thought, NASA Says huffingtonpost.com

But late Friday, NASA revised its estimates on the size and power of the devastating meteor explosion. The meteor's size is now thought to be slightly larger — about 55 feet (17 m) wide — with the power of the blast estimate of about 500 kilotons, 30 kilotons higher than before, NASA officials said in a statement. [See video of the intense meteor explosion]
The meteor was also substantially more massive than thought as well. Initial estimated pegged the space rock's mass at about 7,000 tons. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., now say the meteor weighed about 10,000 tons and was travelling 40,000 mph (64,373 km/h) when it exploded.
"These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world - the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk," JPL officials explained in the statement. The infrasound stations detect low-frequency sound waves that accompany exploding meteors, known as bolides.
The meteor entered Earth's atmosphere and blew apart over Chelyabinsk at 10:20 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (03:20:26 GMT on Feb. 15). The meteor briefly outshined the sun during the event…


2013-02-15 T.Zverintseva. Hasan's legacy lenta.ru


2013-02-14 FSB: US Geopolitical pressure on Russia increased in 2012 vz.ru


2013-02-14 Putin to block radical propaganda in Internet ria.ru

gazeta.ru


2013-02-13 A.Glushenko. What happens in Sochi echo.msk.ru


2013-02-13 Oil oligarchs blackmail Kremlin politcom.ru


2013-02-12 Volin defends his position on media freedom and media business ria.ru


2013-02-09 Udaltsov under home arrrest lenta.ru


2013-02-08 St.Belkovskiy. Perestroika-2 and LGBT mk.ru


2013-02-07 I.Azar. What happens to antifa movement lenta.ru


2013-02-06 F.Sterkin, O.Plotonova. Russians can be fined for using their foreign accounts vedomosti.ru


2013-02-02 M.Kononenko. Magnitsky's case: why Brauder does not respond to Karpov's claims? izvestia.ru


2013-02-01 Putin: We don't need vulgar secularism lenta.ru


2013-01-28 Krylov sentenced to 120 hours of communal work for nationalist incitement interfax.ru


2013-01-24 Agdamov's victim testifies in Norway izvestia.ru

Norwegian police does not investigate Agdamov


2013-01-24 Chubais may leave Rosnano regnum.ru


2013-01-24 K.Sugrobov. Why deoffshorization does not work in Russia lenta.ru


2013-01-23 Rusian Financial Agency to be created rbc.ru

12-22-2011 K.Gurdin. What happens with MinFin and RFA?


2013-01-22 OLEG KASHIN. A Cold Shoulder for Russian Dissidents nytimes.com

LAST week, Alexander Dolmatov, an activist in a political party opposed to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, committed suicide at a detention center in the Netherlands. He had fled Russia last June, hoping to be granted political asylum. When his application was denied, he took his life — the only way to guarantee that he would not be deported home and, most likely, face time in prison.
A Dutch official said “the asylum denial is not the reason for his suicide,” citing a note Mr. Dolmatov, who was 36, left behind. In that note, which Mr. Dolmatov’s mother shared with me, he expressed regret for “having brought shame on everybody.” However, his lawyer has said that Mr. Dolmatov might have written the note under duress. Mr. Dolmatov’s mother has asked the Dutch government for an investigation.
Mr. Putin, a K.G.B. officer during the Soviet era, has always been nervous about street protests. His regime was terrified by the largely peaceful revolutions that toppled dictators in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004, as well as the Arab Spring.
But the Kremlin quickly recovered from its initial fright. Last May, just before Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev switched jobs, thousands of Russians again thronged Bolotnaya Square. Instead of concessions, the government responded with repression. It went after ordinary participants in the protests, including a student, a journalist, even a chemist. Sometimes the authorities would first search the home of a suspect, then detain him a few days later. Because of that delay, several opposition participants managed to avoid detention by fleeing Russia after their homes were searched.
One of them, Mr. Dolmatov, went farther than others in his flight to safety. Unlike other people persecuted in connection with the demonstrations, he had been under surveillance by the F.S.B. (the K.G.B.’s successor) long before the demonstrations started, because he worked for a state-run missile-design company and had a government security clearance. After he fled, during a search of his parents’ home, a government agent told them their son was lucky to have left, or he would have been charged not only with protesting but also spying.
Mr. Dolmatov is returning to Russia — to be buried. His death is a tragedy to those who knew him and also to thousands of anti-Putin protesters who, fearing persecution, have hoped that the West would offer them a haven.
During the cold war, Western public opinion was resolutely on the side of harboring persecuted Soviet dissidents. But as the European Union has drawn closer to Russia economically, interest in Russian human rights has waned, except when developments are so outrageous — like the assassination of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 — that they cannot be ignored. If the West’s doors remain closed, more Russian dissidents will become victims of the state — or die by their own hands.


2013-01-20 BORIS AKUNIN. Let’s Not Rush to Win in Russia nytimes.com

On Sept. 24, when it was announced at the congress of the ruling party of Russia that our next president will once again be Vladimir Putin, my wife said to me: “That’s it. We need to leave. I don’t not want to spend the rest of my life in the country of Mister Dobby.” “This is not his country,” I replied. “Let’s wait some more. There will be a social eruption. People are not idiots, they will not agree to this castling move.”
But days passed, weeks, and there was no social eruption. Yes, a few of the usual anti-Putin grumblers — me among them — grumbled. As for the rest of Russia, it seemed to care less: if Putin, let it be Putin. Another 12 years? Let him stay for life, no problem. So I also started to think seriously of leaving. If we — those whom the Putin government makes sick to our stomach — are so few, why should we keep our tranquil compatriots from living happily?
...Then came December, and in literally a few days Russia awoke and became an entirely different country. Suddenly it was apparent that people like me were not a marginal minority, that we were many. In Moscow we’re actually a clear majority.
All talk of leaving vanished in my circle, as if it had never happened. The discovery that made us euphoric can be summed up in four words: “This is our country.” The last time we felt this way was 20 years ago, when the Communist regime collapsed.
...Paradoxical as this may sound, I would prefer if Putin’s regime did not collapse too quickly. Let him resist at least another year or so. If he left right away, without squandering his popularity to the end, he might yet come back in a fully democratic way — when the crisis hits the living standard, people will begin to talk nostalgically of the “fat years.” A “second coming” would be a catastrophe for the country.
In addition, the still very young shoots of civil society need time to grow and become stronger. The best way for them to mature would be a continuing assault on a rigid, unyielding authoritarianism. In such a struggle, civil society would strengthen and learn to organize. A palette of real political parties would develop — not puppets, as in Putin’s Parliament: a powerful democratic center, with the new left of socialists and communists to one side, and the new right of nationalists on the other.
If the change of power occurred after this process was complete, post-Putin Russia would enter relatively painlessly into the next stage of the evolution of the state. Politically, this would be a tumultuous country, with parliamentary crises, abrupt changes of government, demands for impeachment and all the other attributes of a developing democracy.
But in a country in which a middle class had awakened and realized its power, neither the “siloviki” (the power ministers) nor the oligarchs would be able any longer to monopolize power. Nor could one person.


2013-01-18 Kadyrov offers USA to take Wahabis to America interfax-religion.com

rosbalt.ru
The conclusions drawn by the U.S. State Department Office of International Religious Freedom regarding the situation in Russia are intentionally biased, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia's Chechen Republic, said.
Kadyrov accused the report authors of deliberately offering false conclusions depicting the situation with religious freedom in Chechnya and Russia as a whole.
"Allegations that Chechnya distorts "the Chechen Sufi traditions in order to justify its policies" cannot be treated seriously. What Sufi traditions are they talking about? What distortions do they have in mind? Is it the State Department's business how we pray? They have no idea what Sufism means. Otherwise, they would not be speaking about any Chechen Sufi traditions. Sufism and traditions have nothing in common. These are different things," Kadyrov was quoted by his press service as saying.
"We strictly obey all requirements of our Islamic religion. We do so because we are Muslims, not because we want to please America. Even if the commission writes a hundred reports a day, we will pray and follow the regulations of the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad," he said.
Kadyrov promised to continue "urging young girls to wear head scarves, as required by Islam."
"But no one has ever forced them to wear them. Those who believe sincerely and have firm Islamic convictions dress as befits a Muslim. But there is no need to force them to do so. No one has assumed these functions," he said.
Describing his attitude to Wahhabism, Kadyrov said that "there will never be any followers of Wahhabi Islam in Chechnya, even if the U.S. criticizes me for it a million times.'
"It is an evil, a plague. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured because of Wahhabism followers. We do not see any difference between Wahhabism and terrorism. It is how the Prophet assessed them. If they [the report authors] care of them so strongly, let them bring these people to their country and take care of them. Let's see how they will start to wail in half a year," Kadyrov said.


2013-01-17 I.Rodin. Justice ministry does not see any foreign agents in Russia ng.ru


2013-01-16 E.Limonov. On Death of Hasan izvestia.ru


2013-01-14 Blind Russian teenage girl's criticism of US adoption ban receives wide attention foxnews.com

A blind Russian high-schooler's impassioned criticism of the ban on adoption by Americans has added a new and compelling voice to the chorus of condemnation of the law.
Since her Jan. 6 blog entry complaining about the ban, written as an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, Natasha Pisarenko has attracted the wide attention of Russian media and, she fears, drawn the disapproving notice of authorities.
The adoption ban, which went into effect Jan. 1, is one of the most controversial moves of the first year of Putin's third term in the Kremlin. It was enacted as part of a bill retaliating for a new U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
But critics say it punishes innocent children by denying them a chance of escaping Russia's often-dismal orphanages. Around 20,000 people held a protest march against the measure in Moscow on Sunday that included banners likening Putin to King Herod, whom the Bible says ordered the massacre of Jewish male infants.


2013-01-14 Two TV news grpoups fight for the rights to make story about Kabanova's killing lifenews.ru


2013-01-11 How the orphan law will work lenta.ru

Judicial Ministry can't find NGO's to ban under the anti-Magnitsky law




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