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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

12/29/2006

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One Last Year of Peace, Perhaps

As 2006 passes into the history books, it might just end up being lost, as nothing of really great significance took place in the country.

Keep an Eye Out for Reform's Second Phase

The year ahead represents an important transition for investors in Russia. Not because it is the last full year of Vladimir Putin's presidency, but because it is the last in an eight-year preparation phase during which the state has established a dominant role in so-called strategic sectors and has built up a substantial financial reserve base.

The Year of the Flying Pig

I love New Year's resolutions. Every year, I enjoy the utterly ludicrous belief that I can improve myself. Despite decades of proof to the contrary, this year for sure I can banish bad habits, exercise four times a week, back up computer files regularly, and become a kind, generous,and loving soul whose Russian is perfect. Yeah, right. When pigs fly!

British Mum About Mercury Allegations

British detectives said Thursday that they were unaware of evidence supporting Russian prosecutors' claims that there were dangerous mercury traces in London and Moscow, and that former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin was possibly tied to former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko's death.

Aeroflot Flight Hijack Attempt Foiled

A passenger tried to hijack an Aeroflot plane Thursday but was overpowered, and the aircraft was able to make an emergency landing in Prague, officials said.

Shoigu Chimes In With Holiday Safety Tips

Sergei Shoigu, head of the Emergency Situations Ministry, warned Russians on Thursday to limit drinking, smoking and setting off fireworks during the holiday to avoid apartment fires.

New Year's Eve Will Deliver Frost and Roped-Off Streets

It should be snowing on New Year's Eve, and temperatures will stay below zero, the nation's chief weather expert promised Thursday.

Former Tomsk Mayor Facing Drug Charges

Makarov's run in with prosecutors is the latest in a string of legal attacks on mayors from Volgograd to Arkhangelsk.

Kudrin Calls for Watch on Inflation

The country's economy has become more sensitive to inflation since the country lifted restrictions on capital currency movements earlier this year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Thursday.

Sakhalin-2 Partners to Pay $3.6Bln

Shell and its Japanese partners will take on $3.6 billion in costs themselves to develop the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, lowering the amount state-run Gazprom will spend to join the project and hastening the state's share in the profit.

Cabinet Backs Ruble Debt Plan

The government gave its backing on Thursday to the 2007 state domestic borrowing program totaling 305 billion rubles ($11.58 billion), of which around 70 percent will be used to finance increased state spending.

Russia, Moldova Strike WTO Deal

Russia and Moldova reached a bilateral deal on Moscow's accession to the World Trade Organization, removing one of the last obstacles to Russian membership to the global trading body, national news agencies reported.

Experts Positively Identify Basayev

Forensic experts have positively identified the remains of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, the General Prosecutor's Office said on its web site Thursday.

News in Brief

Art Thief to Stand Trial A man who said he stole priceless art from the State Hermitage Museum to save his wife's life is to stand trial for the theft, a curator at the museum said. In August, Nikolai Zavadsky's lawyer quoted him as saying he had stolen the artifacts because he needed money to buy insulin for his diabetic wife, who has since died. Zavadsky is accused of stealing 77 objects worth $5 million from the museum's department of Russian cultural history, a statement on the Prosecutor General's web site said Thursday. It gave no date for the trial's start. The artifacts, stolen over several years, are some of more than 200 silver and enamel pieces missing from the Hermitage, home to a huge collection including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Claude Monet. The thefts exposed years of underfunding and neglect at the country's museums, where staff are paid paltry wages and there is no cash for adequate security.

Zinc Firm Sales Surge 260% on High Prices

The country's top zinc producer, Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant, reported Thursday a 260 percent rise in revenues in January to September due to high zinc prices and higher sales volumes.

Police Want Power to Freeze Accounts

The police want the power to freeze the accounts of companies suspected of money laundering for as much as 45 days without a court order, Kommersant said, citing an unidentified official in the Interior Ministry.

Business in Brief

Investors Buy Into Bridges Investors bought stakes in half of Russia's bridge-building companies this year as the construction of new roads signals a boom for the $2 billion market, Vedomosti reported Thursday. Sistema bought a majority stake in Siberia's Sibmost, the newspaper said. Severstaltrans, 50 percent owned by Severstal CEO Alexei Mordashov, bought a controlling share in Moscow's Mostotrest, the newspaper said, citing Severstaltrans spokeswoman Anna Vostrukhova. (Bloomberg) Evraz Extends Oregon Offer Steelmaker Evraz Group extended its $2.3 billion cash offer for Oregon Steel Mills to Jan. 9 from Dec. 28 to allow the U.S. government to complete a review. The review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States expires Jan. 8, Evraz said in a statement Thursday. As of Dec. 27, stockholders with 9.6 million Oregon shares, or 27 percent of the company's outstanding shares, have agreed to the offer, Evraz said.

Divas, Tractors and a Giant Dinosaur

There are always those stories -- funny, poignant, touching, outrageous -- that never make it onto the front pages but stick with readers long after the big, blaring, five-column headlines have receded from memory.

Gas Deadline Looms for Lukashenko

With four days left before Russia is slated to cut off gas to Belarus, Minsk and Moscow remain locked in a price dispute that is hurting Russia's reputation as a reliable energy supplier.

Elections and Oil Hold Key to 2007

It has been a banner year for Russian stocks, but analysts expect to see that banner waver in 2007, when volatility picks up on local markets and the looming State Duma and presidential elections shake up the ties between business and power.
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