RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Feb 10th, 2009

100209.jpgTODAY: Kremlin think-tank blames Russia’s economic structure for current financial troubles; Kyrgyzstan delays vote on US base closure, awaits funds; Putin introduces bill to criminalize stock price manipulation, plans domestic ratings agencies; Yabloko member says extortion charges are politically motivated.

A new report from the Institute of Modern Development, which advises the Kremlin on economic policy, names ‘fundamental flaws in the structure of the country’s economy and its underdeveloped financial system’ as the cause for Russia’s current financial woes, and rejects the government’s assertion that the crisis was brought about largely by Western financial mismanagement.  Igor Y. Yurgens, who presented the report, suggested that economic and political reform would have to go hand in hand: ‘The social contract consisted of limiting of civil rights in exchange for economic well-being.  At the current moment, economic well-being is shrinking. Correspondingly, civil rights should expand. It’s just simple logic.’  Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has introduced a bill to criminalize the manipulation of stock prices, which would hold the media responsible for spreading misleading information about stocks.  Putin said he wanted punishments of up to seven years in prison to be real and unavoidable.  […] Such provisions exist in many developed economies, and I consider it timely to introduce a corresponding law.’  Putin is also reportedly planning to introduce ‘strong domestic ratings agencies’ which, he said, would give more reliable guidelines for investors.

A Kyrgyz parliament committee has approved a plan to close its US air base, but the final vote has been delayed, apparently until Kyrgyzstan receives a $450 million down payment on the aid and loans promised to it by Russia.  So much for the Foreign Ministry’s insistence that the base closure had nothing to do with cash incentives.  The Economist does the math.

Vasily Popov, a member of the federal council of the liberal Yabloko party, says that his seven-year suspended sentence for alleged extortion is politically motivated.  Local journalists in several regions are protesting the decision of the federal postal service to suspend circulation of a particular newspaper that was critical of the authorities.  More on the exploitation and marginalization of Russia’s migrant workers.  Read a personal memoir of the artist Alexander Rodchenko.

PHOTO: A Russian reads the financial news in Moscow. (AFP/File/Alexey Sazonov)