Articles by Sam Skove



Russian Car Market Slump Slows to 30% in June

The Russian car market's collapse downshifted to a 29.7 percent drop year-on-year in June, largely thanks to a government program that has made car loans more affordable, a report issued Wednesday said.

Discounts Boost Lada's Sales as Russian Car Market Nosedives


Sales of Russian budget car brand Lada soared more than 15 percent in June, boosted in part by an aggressive discounting scheme carried out even as Russia's economic crisis gutted the country's car market.

Despite Kremlin's Promises, Russian Food Ban Fails to Deliver

As Russia's retaliatory ban on select Western food imports nears its one-year mark, the Kremlin is trumpeting the embargo as a major opportunity for growth in Russian agriculture.

Russia's Middle Class Won't Return to Pre-Crisis Spending – Report

Russia's middle class is likely to continue to spend less even after the country's economy recovers from its current crisis, a report said Thursday, in a trend that threatens to disrupt a once-key driver of Russian economic growth.

Have Moscow's Hostels Come of Age?

Moscow's hostel industry, long stagnant compared to the frenzied markets of cities like London or Berlin, could see major growth as a rise in domestic tourism and changing sentiments boost demand.

4 Signs That Russia's Defense Industry is Pivoting Toward China

Amid an imminent helicopter deal and talk of a Chinese-Russian space station, relations between Moscow and Beijing are warming even as Russia's ties with the West fray over the Ukraine crisis.

Car Insurance Hike Pushes Russian Pensioners Off the Road

Russia's poorest may be forced off the road thanks to a 40 percent rise in car insurance premiums this year, but the knock is unlikely to make much of a difference to Russia's already ravaged car market.

Russia Expands 'Pivot' East Beyond China to Vietnam and Thailand

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev this week traveled to Thailand and Vietnam to deepen Russia's economic ties with Asia amid a breakdown in relations with the West over the Ukraine crisis.

Russians' Appetite for Luxury Cars Unbowed by Ruble Crisis

Russia's economic crisis hasn't touched Anna Kozyreva and Andrei Smirnov, a couple attending the grandiose opening of a Porsche auto dealership in Moscow this week.

U.S. Business Students Still See Russia as Land of Opportunity

The future chief executives of the United States see Russia as a "high-risk, high-reward" place to make money, at least according to a group of MBA students visiting Moscow last week from top U.S. university Rutgers.

Moscow's Plans for New Mega-Malls Threatened by Crisis

Plans to build a staggering 900,000 square meters of new mall space in Moscow this year are rapidly fizzling out as Russia's growing economic crisis tightens access to financing and slashes consumer spending.

'Moskva-City' Skyscrapers Set to Be Emptier Than Ever

"Moskva-City," a financial district of skyscrapers meant to be Russia's answer to New York's Wall Street, will be nearly half vacant this year, according to  Moscow-based real estate consulting company Blackwood.

Vacancies Multiply in Moscow's Upmarket Retail Districts

Moscow's swankiest streets are blooming with cherry red "For Rent" signs as retailers flee their flagship stores for cheaper rents elsewhere amid Russia's growing economic crisis.

Medvedev Seeks Government Action on Rising Cost of Mortgages

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday told the government to ensure that mortgage lending isn't "reduced to nothing" as crushing loan payments squeeze Russians amid sky-high interest rates and rising inflation, news agency Interfax reported on Monday.

As Tourists Steer Clear, Moscow's Luxury Hotels Fight Stagnation

Room rates at Moscow's luxury hotels will likely stagnate this year as continuing international tensions between the West and Russia sap demand, according to a report by real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)

Russia's Backtracking on TV Ad Law Points to Top Media Boss's Departure

Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday passed amendments that could return advertising to Russian pay-to-view channels, a move that analysts say points to the waning influence of recently retired state media boss Mikhail Lesin.

Russian Luxury Apartment Rents Sink as Expats Flee Moscow

Rental prices for Moscow's most expensive apartments fell 17 percent last year, according to a forthcoming IntermarkSavills report, with analysts blaming multinationals fleeing Russia and a collapsing ruble for the dip in rates.

Moscow Office Rents to Drop Sharply as Recession Closes In

Office rent costs in Moscow are likely to nearly halve this year as companies' need to economize amid an oncoming recession combines with market oversupply, analysts said.

Putin Expresses Support for Freed Sistema Head Yevtushenkov

Putin's expression of support for billionaire Sistema owner Yevtushenkov following his release from house arrest sent the conglomerate's stock up 90 percent in an abrupt change of fortunes for the embattled company.

Russians' Race for Foreign Currency Empties Bank Tills

Currency exchange desks across the country were sucked dry of U.S. dollars and euros on Wednesday as Russians scrambled to turn their rapidly depreciating rubles into stable foreign cash, media outlets reported.

Russia Offers Bargain iPhone 6 Due to Struggling Ruble

Prices on expensive imported items, from Apple laptops to Gucci bags, are suddenly lower in Russia than in the West as ruble-denominated retail prices hold steady despite the currency's free fall.

Russia Climbs 30 Places in World Bank Business Ranking

Despite dire forecasts for its sanctions-struck economy, Russia has leaped up an unprecedented 30 positions in the World Bank's annual "Doing Business" survey for 2015, the bank said Wednesday.

Moscow's Legendary Hotel Moskva to Reopen

Hotel Moskva, finished at the height of Stalin's power and demolished a decade ago under Moscow's construction-happy former Mayor Yury Luzhkov, will open its doors again Thursday as the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow, an exact replica of its iconic predecessor.

Rosneft Asks for $49 Billion From State Welfare Fund to Survive Sanctions

State-owned oil major Rosneft has requested $49 billion from one of Russia's oil-revenue-funded reserves to help it weather Western sanctions, Finance Minster Anton Siluanov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

Russians Pull $5 Billion Out of Banks as Ruble Plummets

Russians pulled 52.6 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) out of ruble deposits in September as Moscow battled to keep its currency afloat amid plummeting oil prices, high capital outflows and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, business daily Vedomosti reported Tuesday, citing data from the Central Bank.

Russia's State Duma Passes Law Compensating Western Asset Seizures in First Reading

The State Duma on Wednesday passed in its first reading a widely criticized bill known unofficially as the "Rotenberg law," which seeks to provide financial compensation to Russian companies and citizens hit by Western sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis, news site Gazeta.ru reported.

Wainwright Vibrates, Plays Piano in Town

Singer Rufus Wainwright, known for his lush, operatic and vocally complex songs, will bring his "Vibrate" tour to Moscow for his first show in Russia. The concert, featuring only Wainwright and a grand piano, will take place at Dom Muzyki on Thursday.

Summer Festivals Promise Fun and Fresh Air in Russia's Regions

Giant insects headed down the streets of Vyksa, a small industrial town in Nizhny Novgorod region earlier this month.

Therapy Group Krug Brings Vision of Integrated Society to Life

When Sasha Gogolev began art therapy at Moscow's Krug center, he was uncommunicative, at times speaking hardly a word.

U.S. Ceases Issuing Export Licenses on Some Goods Destined for Russia

Nearly $1.5 billion worth of trade between the U.S. and Russia could be threatened by a quietly made decision to stop U.S. firms from selling goods with potential military applications to Russia.