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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct 23, 2013

231013TODAY: Major energy deals signed with China; Rogozin threatens Moldova; government may fund anti-immigrant NGOs; Russia to snub Greenpeace case; Putin calls on Muslim clerics for support; Russian stocks creating a buzz; anti-.gay laws provoke suicide.

Russian energy companies signed a number of deals with China yesterday, consolidating plans to direct exports away from the European Union.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, called for their total annual bilateral trade to reach $100 billion by 2015, prompting Medvedev to push for a resolution of the ongoing gas export pricing problem; he also called for greater direct investment with China, ‘because things are not so good in that area’.  For now, Rosneft will supply China’s Sinopec (Petrochemical Corp) with $85 billion worth of oil over the next decade, starting next year; and Novatek will supply the same company with liquefied natural gas for the next 15 years (at least 3 million metric tons).  Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin last month allegedly threatened that Russia would cut off Moldova’s gas supply if it continued to seek closer ties with Europe.  The government may begin providing aid to NGOs fighting illegal immigration, if a new bill passes through the Duma.  An inquiry has uncovered inappropriate use of budget funds at the Federal Border Agency.

Russia will refuse to take part in a maritime hearing, brought by the Netherlands, into its detention of 30 Greenpeace activists.  Speaking to Muslim leaders in the Republic of Bashkortostan, President Vladimir Putin accused his foreign rivals of using radical Islam to weaken Russia, and appealed to Muslim clerics to help reduce tensions.  As investor feedback increasingly favours Russian stocks, the stock market is buzzing with excitement about ‘New Russia, says Forbes. ‘[…] asset prices can still rise without reform, for a few years at least.’  Consumer credit firm TCS, which owns Tinkoff Credit Systems, priced its London IPO at the top of its target range yesterday.  The International Monetary Fund warned Russia that household debt levels – rapid growth in uncollateralised retail credit in particular – pose increasing risks to its economy.

A 22-year-old transgender Russian woman committed suicide last week, apparently after losing a job due to new laws against ‘homosexual propaganda’.  The offices of Moscow based newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets were attacked yesterday.  The Bolshoi acid attack trial began yesterday to a media frenzy, and was promptly postponed.

PHOTO: Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (right) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev (left). (REUTERS)