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RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Sept. 6, 2007

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A Chechen woman stands at the window of her flat which was ruined during more than a decade of separatist fighting in Chechnya, in Grozny, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007. (Photo: AP)

Russia’s Supreme Court has overruled a decision from a lower court that found the investigation against Mikhail Khodorkovsky was being illegally conducted in Siberia. MI5 has told the UK Government that among the foreign intelligence services operating to some degree against British interests, Russia, alongside China, is of greatest concern, and today’s big story in the UK is that British fighter jets scrambled to intercept eight Russian Bear reconnaissance aircraft in the second such incident in recent weeks. Vladimir Putin says he has resumed the cold war practice of sending bombers on long-range flights in response to security threats by other military powers. Meanwhile the Russian president has signed a major arms deal in Jakarta, agreeing a £500m credit arrangement designed to reduce Indonesia’s “dependency on the United States”. As an enticing bonus to the arrangement, Kremlin loyalist Oleg Deripaska’s company Rusal will develop a mining complex in a joint venture with Indonesian company Antam. Russia and the US will hold missile shield talks in Paris, and Russia and Iran have agreed on fixing a timetable for nuclear fuel delivery. Russia’s Economic Development and Trade Ministry’s chief forecaster has warned that the global liquidity crunch could hit consumer lending and the real estate sector, although Russia’s GDP growth is due to accelerate this year. Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works will invest over $1 billion in a US plant to supply to the automotive sector. Siemens’ desire to acquire 30.4 percent of Power Machines doesn’t mean it will emerge as the principal owner, as sources say Siemens will resell the stocks to Deripaska’s Basic Element, a company which appears to have the green light to take over Russneft’s seized stocks. Meanwhile Russneft’s former chief and current politically persecuted fugitive, Mikhail Gutseriyev, is supposedly now living in London. The Times published a hostile feature Mr. Deripaska today, while officials from Germany are reportedly trying to “link Deripaska to the Russian mafia.” This correlates with a new US survey, carried out by nonpartisan institution the German Marshall Fund, which reveals that Europeans and Americans have concerns about a resurgent Russia, with Germany at the forefront in doubting Russia’s intentions. The Duma’s election campaign has begun amidst reports of poor organization, and the United Russia party is off to a bad start after having missed an internal deadline to select candidates for its party list. Russian police searched the Moscow headquarters of Alfa Bank, the country’s biggest private lender, and seized documents for a probe into Sodbiznesbank. Foreign oil and mining companies operating in Russia have seriously overstated reserves. Political influence over Gazprom is being blamed by Poland as it foresees problems with future gas supplies from Russia, and in other news, Gazprom is still thinking about letting more foreign companies help out on the Shtokman Field project. New in Russia: Starbucks; HSBC; and a possible new Russian version of the FBI. A Siberian Mayor has banned his bureaucrats from using the phrase “I Don’t Know.”