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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept. 24, 2007

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Russia’s team waves to the crowd during the rope medal ceremony of the group apparatus final at the 28th Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in the city of Patras, southern Greece, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. (Photo: AP)

There has been a delay in announcing the new Russian government. In the run-up to the elections, the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi is teaming up with city police to keep the streets quiet and, many believe, to curb anti-Kremlin political protest. The Union of Right Forces has begun its election campaign, although absent from the congress was party stalwart Anatoly Chubais, who stayed away, it is thought, after Vladimir Putin insinuated that his position as CEO of United Energy Systems could make his political involvement troublesome. A Just Russia’s new election campaign calls for the creation of ‘Socialism 3.0’. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said his party would not participate in the elections because, “The elections for the Duma are just an imitation of the democratic process, and I have decided to boycott them.” The $1trillion program planned to modernize industry and infrastructure in Russia will include a major role for private and foreign investors, according to Putin. Late Friday night, Russia prosecutors charged Shamil Burayev, a former Chechen politician with being an accomplice in the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. London-listed Imperial Energy accused Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of the Natural Resources Ministry’s environmental watchdog, of causing damage to the oil firm and its reputation after a misleading statement impacted its share price. Severstal, the Russian steel producer controlled by Alexei Mordashov, increased its stake in gold and molybdenum producer Celtic Resources Holdings Plc to more than 25%. Peter Hambro Mining, the second-biggest miner of gold in Russia, almost doubled its first-half profit because of higher bullion prices and production. Rusal’s decision to delay its listing on the London Stock Exchange will be a huge blow to City banks who had counted on profiting from it. VTB Venture Fund, Russia’s first venture capital fund, is ready to begin investment activity. Russian Standard Bank, the lender owned by billionaire Rustam Tariko, has stopped making cash loans to consumers amid soaring refinancing costs because of the worldwide credit squeeze. Andrei Vavilov, former employee of the Russian government, is looking to start a hedge fund in the US. Russian natural-gas exports to Europe fell in the first eight months of the year after mild weather reduced consumption in the country’s main foreign market. Lithuania wants to buy its gas directly from Gazprom. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources eased pressure on London-listed, Russia-focused oil firm Urals Energy, saying it had withdrawn its previous objections to the firm’s reserves reporting figures. Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel producer, is reportedly eyeing coal assets in Siberia. Russian oil firm Tatneft has chosen Royal Dutch Shell as a strategic partner in the development of a deposit of bitumen. Russia interprets the US’ rejection of Russia’s offer to use its Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan as a threat. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “I understand them very well: Gabala cannot scan Russia’s territory.” Responding to US accusations, Lavrov also defended Russia’s sale of arms to Syria against US criticism, saying that the sale does not disturb any balance of forces in the Middle East. With the independence of Kosovo as just one of several brewing disagreements, senior Bush administration officials increasingly see Russia as a rising strategic challenge. By Putin’s invitation, former French president Jacques Chirac and former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have arrived in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on private visits. The Moscow District Military Court has upheld an arrest warrant for Yury Gaidukov, an Audit Chamber employee who was detained on suspicion of receiving a $1.4 million bribe from Energomash. The court rejected an appeal from Yury Gaidukov’s lawyers, who claimed his arrest was unlawful. In a report on economic conditions in the regions, Rosstat said that the number of migrants entering Russia in the first half of the year was almost double that of the same period last year. The Georgians are quite miffed after the Russian Ambassador said that as small nation they face “extinction” in light of growing globalization.