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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

12/30/2005

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A Strange Year Ends in Utter Phantasmagoria

Everybody in Russia long ago got used to the fact that the consequences of decisions often turn out to be far from those intended by the decision-makers. But even with that as a given, it is still true that certain consequences of certain decisions are difficult to perceive in any context other than utter phantasmagoria.

New Year's Resolutions for a Word Maven

Ah, New Year's resolutions. This silly masochistic habit is regarded with bemusement by Russians, who know better than to promise to do something they won't do. Why make yourself feel guilty? Good question.

Business in Brief

Reserves Hit $174Bln Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves, the world's sixth biggest, rose to a record $174 billion as of Dec. 23 as revenue from oil exports surged. The reserves, which have climbed more than 40 percent from a year ago, increased by $2.7 billion in the week, the Central Bank said in a statement. (Bloomberg) Fund Misses Target The stabilization fund grew to $47.24 billion on Dec. 27 falling short of expected $52.1 billion after $1 billion was used to cover the pension fund deficit, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The fund, which gathers windfall oil revenues, collected 1.24 trillion rubles ($43.07 billion) on Dec. 1. The Finance Ministry earlier forecast the fund would reach almost 1.5 trillion rubles ($52.1 billion) by the end of the year.

Gazprom to Join Heavyweights

Morgan Stanley Capital International has said it will increase the weighting of Gazprom on two indexes after President Vladimir Putin ended a cap on foreign ownership of shares of the world's largest gas company.

Economists Upbeat on '06 Outlook

Russia's economic outlook was brighter than expected but the chances of the government meeting its 8.5 percent inflation target for 2006 are slim, a Reuters survey of economists shows.

Gazprom Pulls a Trump Card

Gazprom, locked in a dispute that could deny Ukraine gas supplies next year, tightened the screws on Thursday by agreeing to buy Central Asian gas that would normally have gone to its neighbor.

Coke Versus Pepsi, Santa Versus Moroz

Coke's festive season mascot is red, Pepsi's is blue -- and whether it's Santa Claus or Grandfather Frost is up to you.

EU Keeps Tight Tap on Beer Drinkers

The European Union prolonged Finland's right to curb the amount of beer travelers can bring from Russia, aiding costlier Finnish retailers, bolstering tax revenue and addressing worries about drunkenness.

News in Brief

Klebnikov Jurors Picked Jurors were selected Thursday for the trial of three ethnic Chechens accused of killing U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov, RIA-Novosti reported. The prosecution and defense selected a 12-person jury and four alternate jurors out of 46 candidates, the news agency said, citing Moscow City Court officials. The closed-door trial will start on Jan. 10, the court said. Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, was gunned down outside the magazine's Moscow offices on July 9, 2004. (AP) Iran, Russia Nuclear Talks TEHRAN, Iran -- Senior Iranian and Russian officials agreed on Thursday to hold talks on a Russian proposal aimed a resolving Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West, said an Iranian diplomat close to the talks. The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agreement came during a telephone conversation between Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and Security Council chief Igor Ivanov.

Ex-Prisoners Write Yukos Founder on New Year's

Former ""prisoners of conscience"" and rights activists including Andrei Sakharov's widow sent jailed businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky New Year's wishes and likened his fate to that of Soviet-era dissidents.

Towering Trees, Grandfather Frost and 4 Parties

The Kremlin is showing off a towering fir tree from Grandfather Frost's home village, and Grandfather Frost himself is having an open house at his official Moscow residence as part of this season's extended holiday celebrations.

Suicide Blast Injures One in Dagestan

A man strapped with explosives blew himself up Thursday near a mosque in the Dagestani capital, killing himself and injuring another person, police said.

Activists Ask Putin to Nix NGO Bill

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on President Vladimir Putin not to sign a new bill that would severely restrict nongovernmental organizations.

Early Morning Fire Kills 7 in Home for Mentally Ill

A fire broke out early Thursday in a home for the mentally ill in the Moscow region, killing seven people and injuring 12 others, emergency officials said.

No Booze But Lots of Tea for New Year's

Russian tradition has it that how you celebrate New Year's will dictate the course of the next 12 months. This New Year's Eve, hundreds of thousands of people will hope for a better 2006 as they welcome the New Year behind bars.

Swiss to Extradite Adamov to Russia

Swiss authorities will extradite former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov to Russia rather than to the United States, according to a court ruling made public Thursday.

Ringing In 2006 With a (Safe) Bang

A stray rocket shattered the double glass of Natalya Markina's ninth-floor kitchen window as she and her family were ringing in 2005. It then exploded, completely destroying the table laid out with the traditional holiday meal.
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