Questions about the Future of Russia's Economy

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With the value of the ruble in a downfall, many questions linger concerning the future of Russia's economy and currency. In answering the question of what can be expected, experts have stated that even higher inflation and interest rates are to be expected in the coming weeks and months as the value of the ruble is dependent upon the price of oil. While it is the responsibility of Russia's central bank to control the value of the ruble and bring an end to the currency's downfall, all efforts of the central bank in recent months have proven ineffective.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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Ruble Hits New Low

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The Russian ruble hit a new low on Monday with it trading at about 63 rubles per dollar and 75 rubles per Euro. Values like this haven't been seen since the collapse of the ruble in 1998. Moreover, the Russian Central Bank has yet to infuse massive amounts of money to stabilize the ruble, opting to save its reserves for later. No one knows exactly how much more the value of the ruble will slide.

Article Source: Forbes Russia

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Our Man in Tallinn

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The Russian State Security Service (FSB) revealed the name of one of its spies who worked for the Estonian Internal Security Police (KAPO) for 20 years. Udo Puusepp stayed on with the new Estonian security service after the fall of the USSR and subsequently became a spy for the Russian service. Puusepp provided valuable information to the FSB about many kinds of anti-Russian activities in Estonia that were being carried out by the intelligence services of the U.S., UK, Sweden, and other E.U. countries.

Article Source: RIA Novosti

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The West Won't Help

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On Friday the U.S. Congress unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act that gives U.S. president Barack Obama the ability to impose deeper sanctions on Russia, specifically "Gazprom" and "Rusoboronexport." The act also gives $350 million in support to the Ukrainian military, including the possibility lethal aid. However, it remains to be seen if any lethal aid will be sent to Ukraine, as many think it could provoke Russian retaliation and an escalation of the crisis in the east of the country.

Article Source: TSN Ukraine

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Kadyrov Supporters Disrupt Conference in Moscow

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Unidentified supporters of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov stormed into a conference of human rights activisits in Moscow on Thursday. The conference was being held to discuss the recent acts of arson committed in Chechnya allegedly aimed at relatives of those responsible for an attack on Grozny on December 4. The activists are urging the Chechen government to investigate the acts of arson and find those responsible. At the conference, two young men entered the room, interrupted the speaker by shouting various slogans, and then proceeded to throw eggs at conference participants.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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Navalny Gathers 100,000 Signatures for Anti-corruption

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Russian politician and Kremlin whistle-blower Alexei Navalny has completed his project to gather 100,000 signatures of Russian citizens urging Russia’s government to ratify Article 20 of the UN Convention Against Corruption, which Russian officials failed to do in 2006 when signing on to other parts of the convention. Article 20 stipulates that it will be illegal in a country for a public official to have a significant increase in assets for which this individual cannot account for. While Navalny’s team has submitted the petition, many political experts and commentators suggest that the petition will not be regarded seriously by the Russian government. Russian officials, meanwhile, claim that Russia has ratified the convention fully. However, the official statement of Russia on official UN documentation concerning the convention would show otherwise. 

Article Source: Vedomosti

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E-Estonia

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Estonia has once again earned its title as the most connected country on Earth. Starting the first week of December, it became possible for non-Estonians to become “e-residents” of the small, Baltic country. Entrepreneurs or established businesses have the opportunity to do all of their business online via an official ID, including signing contracts and paying taxes. This is an addition to the benefits that Estonia citizens already have, including the ability to vote online. 

Article Source: SVOBODA

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What Is Known about the Caucasus Emirate

Article Brief

Once again there has been an attack in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia has fought two wars in Chechnya, both times leaving behind a region in ruins. However, despite the sustained and strong-handed presence of the security services in Chechnya, the region remains a hot-bed for insurgency.

Article Source: New Times - Ukraine

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Putin and Hollande Meet at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow

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Reminiscent of his role in mediating the Russia-Georgia War in 2008, French President Hollande made a stop in Moscow on Saturday to carry out talks with Russian President Putin over the crisis in Ukraine. Hollande was on his way back to Paris from Kazakhstan when he decided to stop in Moscow for short negotiations with the Russian president. There is no report that any breakthroughs came out of the meeting. However, both presidents reiterated that the relationships between the West and Russia needs to be open and a truce needs to be reached in the Ukraine crisis.

Article Source: BBC Russian Service

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The Ukrainian Crisis is a Tool of the West to Weaken Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, taking the opportunity to blast the West for its action toward Russia in recent months. The speech comes at a time when Russia is entering a major economic crisis, with a highly devalued ruble and plummeting oil prices, a crisis which Putin places blame solely on the West for instigating. Kremlin critics saw the speech as an attempt by Putin to place blame elsewhere for the Kremlin's own blunders and also as a sign of the high level of political instability in Russia today.

Article Source: Voice of America

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Russia's Foreign Ministry Accuses Ukraine of Becoming an "Orgy of Neo-nazis"

Article Brief

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a new report on the situation in Ukraine. In introducing the report, Konstantin Dolgov warned of the "orgy of neo-nazism" which apparently is taking over Ukraine and stands as a threat for peace in Europe. The report also includes heavy attacks against Western governments and media outlets for not showing objectivity and impartiality over the course of the conflict in Ukraine.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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Chronicles of "Black Monday": How the Market is Surviving the Collapse of the Ruble

Article Brief

Forbes Russia has reported that the Russian ruble hit a 16-year low on Tuesday. This depreciation has not been seen since the Russian economic collapse in 1998. The exchange rate fell to about 54 rubles per dollar and more than 67 rubles per euro. The economic and currency issues in Russia have been brought on by the falling oil prices, lack of confidence in the Russian economy and currency, and Western sanctions.

Article Source: Forbes Russia

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Russia Announces the End of the South Stream Project

Article Brief

What once was thought to be the project that would cut Russia's dependence on gas transit countries has failed to come to fruition. On December 1, BBC Russian Service reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced that Russia was canceling the South Stream project and instead, building a pipeline to Turkey. Earlier in the year Bulgaria decided that it would suspend its participation in the pipeline project due to Russia's actions in Ukraine. It remains to be seen whether a pipeline to Turkey will be financially viable and if the gas delivered can be sent on to Southern Europe.

Article Source: BBC Russian Service

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Moldova's Choice: Russia or Europe?

Article Brief

Moldova's parliamentary election on Sunday is going to show which path the small, Eastern European nation will choose. There is a sizable amount of the population that is leaning towards closer integration with Russia and the Customs Union. There is also a large amount of the population that is leaning towards a European future. Like Ukraine, Moldova appears to be on the balance beam flirting with its future with the East and the West.

Article Source: Radio Svoboda

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Moscow Mayor Promises Compensation to Fired Doctors

Article Brief

As the result of a move to modernize Moscow's archaic healthcare system, thousands of doctors and health care professionals in Moscow are set to lose their jobs as many hospitals and clinics are scheduled to be shut down. As a result, thousands of Moscow healthcare professionals went out on the streets in a rare protest. To deal with the increased pressure, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin has promised to provide 500,000 rubles in compensation to those who are soon to lose their jobs over the reforms.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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Legendary Russian Hockey Coach Victor Tikhonov Dies at 84

Article Brief

Russian hockey coach Victor Tikhonov passed away at the age of 84 in Moscow overnight on Sunday night. Tikhonov became a legend from his dominance in coaching both the Soviet National Hockey Team as well as club team CSKA Moscow. Tikhonov is best know to American fans as the Soviet coach during the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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Israel Could Help Europe Break Its Dependence on Gazprom

Article Brief

It appears that Israel may have become the new answer to the difficult question of energy diversification in Europe. It was announced this weekend that Israel has proposed a new pipeline to deliver gas from its fields via Cyprus to Greece and Italy. The Israeli side is scheduled to present its plan in Brussels in three weeks time. This announcement is timely as Europe is pushing hard for diversification away from Russian gas and is worried about how the conflict in Ukraine could effect its gas supplies this winter.

Article Source: "Tsenzor.net"

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Putin Vows to Block Color Revolutions in Russia

Article Brief

Vladimir Putin is convinced that extremism is a major threat to Russia's security and has vowed to do all in his power to block a "color revolution" from happening inside Russia. Painting the image that color revolutions in other countries have led to nothing but turmoil, pain, and heartache, Putin set forth a plan to deal with extremism in his own country. This plan includes working with youth to block them from being recruited by "leaders of extremist organizations" online and maintaining stricter control over migration policies in Russia.

Article Source: Vedomosti

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Russia Issued New Crimean History Textbooks

Article Brief

A Russian publisher has published a new history textbook dedicated to the Crimean peninsula. The first copies of the book are now available in Russian bookstores. The book takes on a very pro-Russian view of the peninsula's history and has been decried as a disgrace by human rights activists and representatives of the international community.

Article Source: BBC Russian

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"We're Not Trotskyites, We Need a Result"

Article Brief

On November 18, Lenta.ur reported that Vladimir Putin took center stage at the yearly forum of the All-Russian People's Front. With his time on stage speaking and taking questions from the group, President Putin explained the economic situation that Russia was in, as well as why he believes Russia has a chance to come out stronger despite sanctions. Questions centered around the value of the ruble, taxes, housing, and culture.

Article Source: Lenta.ru

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