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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 16, 2014

TODAY: Central banker cries ‘stagflation’; Foreign Ministry slams EU society and economy; OECD slams Russian business climate; proposed law would allow police to search without warrant; Rosneft losing Yukos cases; Navalny asset seizure was lawful, says court; PhosAgro gets Japan loan.

According to a top Russian central banker, the country is facing a mix of high inflation and flat economic growth – otherwise known as ‘stagflation’.  The Foreign Ministry has published a report on the state of human rights in the European Union, criticising xenophobia, racism, aggressive nationalism, and ongoing economic crisis as the EU’s main problems.  It also criticized Europe’s ‘low-wage and temporary jobs’ and ‘chauvinism’; and slammed the EU‘s stance on gay rights, calling its tolerance of sexual diversity ‘the aggressive propaganda of homosexual love’.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) weighed in against Russia’s economic slowdown, blaming current troubles on a poor business climate, poor education system, and weak rule of law.  It also noted that, due to heavy Moscow rush hours, ‘cars are only marginally more efficient than walking as a means of transportation’ in the city.  Parliament is seeking to broaden the powers of the police force before the Olympics start next month, to allow officers to search people and cars without a warrant.

Moscow’s City Court says the seizure of assets belonging to Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg was legal; his lawyer called the court ruling ‘arbitrary’, given that it has not been proven that the assets had been illegally obtained.  Rosneft is facing fines and an asset freeze if it does not comply with foreign court rulings regarding its legal battles with former Yukos-affiliated companies over debt claims worth $1.12 billion.  Archives of personal client data from a Sberbank branch have been discovered in an unauthorised landfill in Izhevsk; the bank says its waste disposal was outsourced.  Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin claims that the bankrupting of Russian defense firms in the 1990s was the fault of foreign investors.

Fertiliser producer PhosAgro has secured a $441 million loan from Japan’s JBIC.

PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference on the second day of the G20 summit in Los Cabos June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Andres Stapff