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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct. 1, 2007

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Former world chess champion and leader of “The Other Russia” party Garry Kasparov speaks during a congress in Moscow. Kasparov was named Sunday as the Other Russia opposition party’s candidate for next year’s presidential elections.(AFP/Alexey Sazonov)

Suspicions that Vladimir Putin will run for a third term as president are “illogical from a close analysis of the country’s history.” Deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia is now ready for a part-affiliated president. “I see nothing bad in existence of a party president,” he said in a statement that coincided with the beginning of the election campaign for United Russia, which is to include heavy involvement from Putin. Duma speaker and United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov is expected to outline the party’s campaign strategy based on its pro-Kremlin platform, which is entitled “Putin’s Plan“. Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak has ruled out running for the presidency. Other Russia has chosen Garry Kasparov as its candidate for the March presidential vote. Kasparov’s running “will end in certain defeat”. Total investment in Russia’s economy in 2010 will reach $360 billion, 800% growth since 2000 and the highest growth rates for over 30 years. Russia will purchase over 50,000 Chinese cars by the end of 2007. Oil and gas blocks of the Sakhalin-3 project are to be auctioned off as strategic deposits, suggesting that foreign access to the project will be limited. Russia’s Audit Chamber has completed its audit of rocket engine maker Energomash, a process that has resulted in the arrest of two senior officials at the chamber, but will not disclose its findings. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has paid $640 million to keep control of power generator OGK-2, scaring off other investors in a secondary share offering that ended up being almost halved. It is thought that Gazprom will go through a management upheaval this month. The assets of Rosoboronexport are to be consolidated into a new state corporation, Russian Technologies, in the next six months, according to company head and Putin ally, Sergei Chemezov. Putin has announced that Russia has no intention of using its currency reserves to infiltrate Western economies or to invest improperly in Western equities. He said that Western investment in Russia should be coupled with Russia being allowed to enter Western markets without discrimination. Russia has been accused of being ‘anti-democratic’ due to its continued stance regarding Burmese sanctions. Writing in the Financial Times, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the International Monetary Fund will become irrelevant if it fails to give a greater voice to emerging nations. The statements were made after Russian-backed central banker Josef Tosovsky lost out to France’s ex-Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn to head the IMF. Russia’s foreign debt climbed by 33.24% to $384.8bn in the first half of 2007 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the Bank of Russia. The US embassy in Moscow saw protests by pro-Kremlin activists against US “double standards” regarding the unrecognized republics of Abhkazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria. The “nuclear renaissance” in countries including Russia could constrain the delivery of key reactor components, thereby possibly thwarting plans by the UK government to build up to 10 nuclear power plants in Britain over the next decade. Brussels will host a forum this month designed to foster dialogue between the EU and Russia, and stress the role of Europe’s ethnic Russian community. The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a new report, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,” produced by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Alexander Zhukov, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said that Russian-Chinese trade could double next year to over $40 billion, but voiced concerns about the imbalance and commodity structure. “Against the backdrop of considerable progress in trade and business cooperation, certain disproportions have surfaced.” The Patriarch of Moscow, Alexy II, will make his first official visit to France this month to meet with members of the Russian Orthodox Church in France, French political leaders, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and leaders of non-Orthodox Christian churches. It is thought that, in his addresses, he will “put forward an alternative concept of human rights”. Putin on Moscow’s 1964 Taganka Theatre: “The word Taganka is like a drop of fresh air… it played its role in preparing democracy in our country.”