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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Oct. 25, 2007

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Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee pose for photographers during their meeting in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. China, Russia and India will attempt to boost cooperation in regional and global issues at talks in northern China, foreign ministers from the countries said. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhou Que)

The Kremlin and the United Russia party deny any influence over the current public rallies, taking place in various regions, supporting the extension of President Vladimir Putin’s powers for a third presidential term. Putin is “likely to find a way to continue in office as President Putin.” Support for United Russia has increased sharply since the President decided to head its list of candidates for State Duma elections in December, and is now backed by 68% of voters. Inflation is set to fall next year and match the target outlook, according to ministers. Current anti-inflationary measures include the opening of the domestic market to foreign producers by Russia’s animal and plant health watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor. Putin has welcomed competition for investment between Russian Railways and national utility Unified Energy System. “Constructive competition [is necessary], only we should not forget about the interests of the state,” Putin said at a railway conference. The conflict between Oleg Deripaska’s Ingosstrakh insurance company and the Czech company PPF Investments has escalated the after private equity group said it would fight a move to slash its stake in the firm “by every legal means.” PPF is claiming that Ingosstrakh’s shareholders illegally decided to quadruple the company’s authorized capital to $402 million, diluting PPF’s stake from 38.5% to about 10%. Deripaska’s Basic Element has applied for anti-monopoly approval to buy Russneft, but Swiss-based commodities trader Glencore has announced that it also bidding for some of the company’s subsidiaries. Analysts suspect that Glencore, which works closely with Deripaska’s metals interests, may have been brought in to strengthen his bid for Russneft. Gazprom has chosen Norway’s StatoilHydro ASA as its second non-Russian partner in Shtokman, a $20 billion offshore project in the Arctic Ocean. Enel SpA, Italy’s biggest utility, raised its stake in Russian power generator OGK-5 to 37% and will make an offer for the rest of the company. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee have met in China’s Heilongjiang province. The meeting’s purpose was to demonstrate that strategic developments within the triangle are gaining momentum, coinciding with a US-Japan missile defence shield in the Pacific Ocean and US “attempts to take root in Middle Asia.” Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to Russia in early November. Russia is said to be concerned over a lack of progress in negotiations on a new strategic agreement with the European Union. The current Russia-EU partnership and cooperation agreement, signed in 1994, expires in December 2007. Negotiations on a new deal have been stalled by Poland over Russia’s ban on Polish meat products. A draft EU resolution, submitted by liberal and green political groups, which called “authoritarian tendencies” in Russia “part of a worrying trend” that threatened the country’s “democratic development and the legitimacy of the Russian leadership,” will not be adopted. Czech Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek has called the US offer to Moscow of allowing Russian soldiers to be present at the planned US missile defense radar base on Czech soil “unacceptable”. The Bushehr nuclear power plant that Russia is building for Iran will operate under the strict control of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog. Russian First Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has announced that Russia will “never do anything to the detriment of Israel’s security,” but a top Israeli security adviser said that Russia’s arms deals with Iran and Syria undermine the Middle East peace process. Russia’s government will raise money to complete the upgrade of an aircraft carrier ordered by India. Putin is currently in Portugal to discuss trade, economic cooperation and international issues with the President and Prime Minister. The Russian who wanted to “record a murder for every square on a chessboard” has been found guilty of killing 48 people in Moscow. A Russian cockroach named Nadezhda (“Hope”) has given birth to the first creatures ever conceived in space, according to scientists.