Articles by Mark Lammey



Ukraine Crisis Halves Number of U.S. and EU Tourists Visiting Russia

Russian travel agencies say 40 to 60 percent fewer European and U.S. holiday makers came to Russia in the first half of this year than in the same period of 2013, while three times fewer Russian tourists went abroad, a trend they attribute to bad blood between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Consumers Stay Away From Moscow's Malls as Sanctions Deepen Russia's Slump

Nearly 25 percent fewer people visited Moscow's malls in the week leading up the start of the school year than in the same period of 2013, a survey said, indicating that Western sanctions and an economic slowdown are hitting Russian consumer demand.

Russia's Houses of Parliament Set for Long-Awaited Move

In a move aimed at easing central Moscow's nightmarish traffic congestion, Russia's two houses of parliament will be relocated to a new hub slated to be built in northwest Moscow, news agency RIA Novosti quoted a spokeswoman for the lower house's speaker, Sergei Naryshkin, as saying.

Russia Divvying Up Crimean Resorts After Annexation

The government has started divvying up state-owned Crimean health retreats among Russian agencies and companies, though many of them are in no fit state to receive guests, Kommersant reported Monday.

Russia to Challenge U.S. Sanctions at WTO

Russia is planning to complain to the World Trade Organization, or WTO, about sanctions imposed  by the U.S. over Russia's perceived failure to help de-escalate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, media reports said.

Moscow Deploys Giant Vending Machines in Anti-Kiosk Crusade

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's crusade against street kiosks in central Moscow has entered a new phase with the installation of about 60 colossal "new breed" vending machines in the city over the next two months.

Planet Hospitality to Sink $100 Million Into Accommodation for World Cup

Holding company Planet Hospitality has launched a $300 million project to establish hotel and motel chains in Russia capable of rooming more than 14,000 visitors by 2018, the year the country hosts the FIFA World Cup.

Russia Ratifies $35Bln Debt Write-Off for Cuba

The Federation Council on Wednesday ratified an agreement that will see Russia write off 90 percent of cash-strapped Cuba's $35.2 billion debt to the Soviet Union, ITAR-Tass reported, drawing a line under a two-decade-long quarrel.

Dobrolyot Shelves Low-Cost Flights to St. Petersburg Amid Pricing Dispute

Russia's new low-cost airline, Dobrolyot, has delayed the start of flights to St. Petersburg after failing to coax a low enough servicing charge from the city's airport, Pulkovo, a news report said Tuesday.


Beer Ads Return to Russian Stadiums, Television for World Cup

Beer ads may soon reappear in Russian stadiums, print media and television — but only through the end of 2018, the year Russia hosts the FIFA World Cup, according to a bill recently approved by the State Duma.

Ex-Bank of Moscow Head Charged With Stealing $29 Million

Russian investigators have accused the former head of the Bank of Moscow of embezzling 1 billion rubles ($29 million) from the bank between 2008 and 2010, the Interior Ministry said Thursday in an online statement.

Putin Approves Sochi Facilities Swaps

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law enabling private companies to swap facilities built for the Sochi Winter Olympics for government property, an option likely to be appeal to Russian Railways among others.

Russian Railways Won't Publish Yakunin's Pay Packet

Vladimir Yakunin, president of financially struggling Russian Railways and bearer of U.S. sanctions, said Thursday that his company would follow the example of Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil company, and not publish his income declaration or those of its other top managers, media reports said.

Australia Slaps Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine Bloodshed

Australia on Thursday announced asset freezes and travel bans against 50 Russian officials and businessmen and 11 Russian companies that it blames for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Design Oversight Leaves $580 Million Hole in Arctic Yamal LNG Port Project

A major planning oversight has left the government scrambling to free up an extra 20 billion rubles ($581 million) for the completion of an Arctic port and liquified natural gas terminal designed to reduce Russia's dependence on pipelines for gas deliveries, business daily Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Moscow Renews Demolition Crusade Against Khrushchev's 1950s Apartment Blocks

Demolition men have flattened 1,451 of Moscow's Khrushchevki Ч cheaply built 1950's apartment blocks that were never meant to make it into the 21st century Ч in the last 15 years, as part of a foundering plan by ex-Mayor Yury Luzhkov to freshen up residential areas, the head of construction at City Hall said Monday.

Russian Cartoons Only! State TV Station Launches Kids Channel

A state-owned television holding answered the calls of the country's leadership on Sunday by launching Mult, a new channel for children that will show only Russian-made cartoons, Vedomosti reported.

Russian Firm Muscles In on IKEA Plans to Build Moscow Metro Station, Report Says

A company owned by the family of retail tycoon Zelimkhan Mutsoyev is ready to build a new metro station in the suburbs of Moscow, provided that City Hall rejects a similar proposal being planned by IKEA, Kommersant reported Friday.

Moscow Public Transport Faces Price Hike Starting June

Public transport in Moscow will become 5-7 percent more expensive starting June, City Hall said Tuesday.

FSB Chief Lauds Joint Terror Prevention Work in Sochi

Cooperation between the security services of Russia and a number of foreign countries helped to prevent terror attacks being carried out in Sochi during the Winter Olympics, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, announced Wednesday.

Journalists Quit En Masse Over Owner's Interference

The editorial staff of two news agencies have quit because their owner repeatedly interfered in their work, amid growing concerns that censorship in the Russian media has become rife.

St. Petersburg Tourism Hit by Crimea Crisis

Western tourists are shying away from going to St. Petersburg because of the situation in Ukraine and Crimea, presenting tourist agencies and the city's hoteliers with the task of plugging a gap in revenue, Vedomosti reported Friday.

KamAZ Says Maidan Activists Hijacked 40 of Its Trucks

Russia's largest truck manufacturer has asked the Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian authorities to help them retrieve more than 40 of its vehicles that were stolen on Sunday by gunmen who were supposedly retaliating against Moscow over the Crimean referendum.

Putin Aides, Industry Leaders Among Russians Facing Sanctions, Report Says

German newspaper Bild has published the names of 13 Russian officials and businessmen who could face joint EU-U.S. travel bans over Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and Sunday's planned referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region.

Sochi Paralympic Games Open Against Backdrop of Ukraine Crisis

The 11th Winter Paralympics officially started in Sochi on Friday night with Russia keen to repeat its successful performance in last month's Winter Olympics, in which it topped the medal table, and showcase a perceived transformation in Russian attitudes to people with disabilities.

Swastika-Flag-Waving Supporter Told to Pay Spartak Moscow $40,000

A court in the city of Vladimir has ordered a Spartak Moscow fan to pay the football club 1.4 million rubles ($40,000).

8 Defendants Found Guilty in Bolotnaya Case

A Moscow court on Friday found eight defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya case guilty of participating in riots and using non-deadly force against police officers at an anti-Kremlin rally in Moscow in 2012.

Yanukovych Declares Day of Mourning as EU Prepares to Discuss Sanctions

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has designated Thursday a day of mourning for those who died during the riots in Kiev as the European Union took a step toward imposing sanctions on the country.

Yermolino Needs $320M to Become Moscow's Low-Coster Aviation Hub

The amount of investment needed to turn Yermolino Airport in the Kaluga region into and an international low-cost air hub and Moscow's fourth major airport has reached 11.3 billion rubles ($320 million), nearly double the original estimate.

Draft Bill for Postal Privatization Submitted

The Communications and Press Ministry has submitted a draft bill to the government that would reorganize Russian Post and pave the way for the flotation of the company's shares.