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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan. 3, 2007

030108.jpgThe dispute over the British Council’s activities in Russia continues, with a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry saying that the Council’s continued presence in the country constitutes “unlawful activity”. Amid protests that native Russian workers are being outnumbered by foreigners, the Russian government say it intends to cut the number of foreign migrant workers the in the country by two thirds in 2008. Last year saw an influx of roughly six million workers without visas. Russia has admitted that customs officials thwarted more than 120 attempts to smuggle “highly radioactive” material out of the country last year, “fuel[ing] concern about how many illegal exports were not halted”.

Small businesses in Russia still facea range of issues which impede progress including red tape and corruption.” Russia could have .ru internet domain names with Cyrillic characters in the next year, and “is pushing for .rf in Cyrillic”, but is this “just another case of Big Brother controlling its citizens?” President Vladimir Putin has opened a ski center near Sochi, funded by Gazprom, that will be used in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Hundreds of people have been left without central heating in temperatures lower than minus 50 degrees Celsius following the collapse of a heating system in Yakutia.Russia could become president of the inter-governmental mutual-security Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) some time over the next year.PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Gazprom’s Chief Executive Alexei Miller as they tour the newly opened alpine ski center at Krasnaya Polyana in the southern Black Sea resort of Sochi January 2, 2008. Sochi will host the Winter Olympics in 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2008. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA)