Ministerial opinions seem to be diverging on whether tax cuts should be introduced in the crisis period. There is also contention over the economic prognosis; Arkady Dvorkovich says that Russian growth will pick up in the third quarter, whilst Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin suggests Russia is in for a ‘long siege‘. Putin, on the other hand, has optimistically forecast growth will return in 2010 and suggested that Kudrin’s comments were made because he is ‘in a certain state of stress’. Russian companies may find it hard to repay loans from VEB, making nationalization a possibility, says Reuters. Soviet Union savers who lost their money when assets were frozen in 1991 are not being fairly recompensed, despite recent promises from Alexei Kudrin, reports the Moscow Times.
Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has stepped up criticism of proposed NATO exercises in Georgia, calling them ‘absurd and a provocation‘. Moldovan breakaway region Transdniestria has asked Russia for a loan, reports Reuters. Senior Georgian and Ukrainian politicians arereportedly talking with White House officials to ensure that the ‘reset’ with Russia does not endanger their relations with the US. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is to meet with Vladimir Putin on April 29, although the Kremlin has not confirmed the meeting. Meanwhile Sergei Lavrov has commented that Russia’s practice of ‘non-interference‘ in Ukraine is ‘a good policy’. Russia awaits a US response to its offer of cooperation on missiledefense and the third launch area.
The grassroots movement involved in many recent demonstrations, the Association of Enterprising Citizens, has applied, for the third time, to be recognized as a legal organization. Nashi youth group is demanding an apology from Federation Council Senator Lyudmila Narusova after she compared the organization to the Hitler Youth. Dmitry Medvedev is reportedly willing to discuss changing the laws regarding the operations of non-profit and non-governmental organizations. The Other Russia offers a link to Medvedev’s interview with Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief Dmitri Muratov, translated into English.
French novelist Maurice Druon has died at the age of 90; one of the few authors to be mass published in the Soviet Union, he had a very loyal following in Russia.
PHOTO: President Dmitry Medvedev meeting Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov at his Gorki residence on April 13, 2009. (Dmitry Astakhov / ria-novosti)