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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Looking Forward ... Feb. 8 to 14

- After the International Monetary Fund dashed what few hopes remained that fresh funds for Russia would be made available, ever more attention is likely to focus on whether or not the Central Bank will be able to successfully juggle its need to pile up reserves to protect the ruble and Russia's need for hard currency to pay its foreign obligations. Russia is due to pay a further $200 million back to the fund on Tuesday.

- The IMF's insistence that Russia make more progress on some of its promised reforms will also focus extra attention on the State Duma session that opens Tuesday. The lower house of parliament is set to begin consideration of new legislation. The minority alliance of Yabloko, Fatherland-All Russia and the Union of Right Forces are due to end the boycott they instituted after the Unity-Communist Party-People's Deputy alliance had carved up the main committees and the speakership between them.

The big question is whether or not the minority forces will have any greater impact on the Duma once they rejoin it. If they don't, tax and land reforms could again be on the backburner.

- Meanwhile, the government's need for greater cash flows - and greater control of those cash flows - is likely to lead to continuing pressure on both Gazprom and Unified Energy Systems. The government has been critical of both companies, fueling talk that either could be split up.

- All eyes will be turning toward Surgut in western Siberia as the days count down toward Friday's extraordinary shareholders meeting, which is supposed to consider a controversial consolidation plan that involves the issuance of 12 million new shares. Minority investors are concerned their property rights will be trampled.

- Also at week's end, First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov flies to Germany to open an exhibition on Russia's Unknown Treasures. He will also hold another round of inconclusive talks with London Club creditors owed some $32 billion in Soviet-era debt.