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May 23, 2014

Russia launches fraud case against backers of Putin critic Navalny

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia opened a fraud case into funding of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s campaign for Moscow mayor last year, in what he said was an attempt to intimidate opposition candidates ahead of local city elections.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Friday that police were carrying out searches at addresses in Moscow linked to three men it described as “close acquaintances and fellow fighters” of Navalny, who is held under house arrest.

May 22, 2014

Special Report: How Putin’s associates botched state hospital project

PERM, Russia (Reuters) – At the foot of the Ural Mountains stands a symbol of how even the best intentions in Russia can enable well-connected individuals to bleed money from the state. It’s a modern hospital built in this industrial city of a million people, and intended to be a flagship of a grand project to improve the country’s healthcare.

The hospital’s chain-smoking director, Sergei Sukhanov, loves his new facility, the Federal Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery, which has beds for 167 patients. He also admires Russian President Vladimir Putin, who championed the hospital and whose letter of thanks to the surgeon adorns his office.

May 22, 2014

The connections behind Putin’s medical centers

By Jason Bush, Elizabeth Piper and Stephen Grey

(Reuters) – The two obscure companies that bungled Putin’s hospital-building project were part-owned by two of the president’s longtime associates, corporate records show.

One was Rosmodulstroi, set up to build and own a module factory. Nikolai Shamalov and Dmitry Gorelov, the Putin associates, each owned 10 percent of the business, according to the company’s founding documents. Russian businessman Sergei Kolesnikov also had a 10 percent stake, according to the documents.

May 22, 2014

Belarus leader says Ukraine must be united state

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has criticized separatist referendums in Ukraine and warned Russia not to take any more ex-Soviet territory after annexing Crimea, Russian media reported.

“Ukraine must be a united, whole state. Both the east and the west are Ukraine,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying in an interview late on Wednesday with Internet channel Dozhd.

May 21, 2014

The palace on the Black Sea

MOSCOW (Reuters) – In 2010, a St. Petersburg businessman called Sergei Kolesnikov published an open letter to Dmitry Medvedev, who was then president of Russia while Vladimir Putin held the post of prime minister. Among other things, Kolesnikov claimed that a luxurious estate was being built near the Black Sea for the benefit of Putin.

This extravagant Italianate mansion had a helicopter landing pad, summer theatre and underground tunnels. Located near Gelendzhik, close to the Black Sea coast, the mansion was quickly dubbed “Putin’s palace” and covered by Russian and international media. The Kremlin denied Putin had any connection to it.

Apr 29, 2014

Russian assets rise on sanctions relief

MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) – Russian asset prices rose on
Tuesday, reflecting investors’ relief that new Western sanctions
against Russia over Ukraine were less severe than many had
feared, but shares gave up some gains after further civil unrest
in eastern Ukraine.

At the close the rouble-denominated MICEX share index
was up 0.4 percent to 1,305 points, while the dollar-denominated
RTS had risen 1.2 percent to 1,153 points.

Apr 24, 2014

Russian banks move funds home as sanctions threat looms

MOSCOW, April 24 (Reuters) – Russia’s third biggest bank
moved almost $7 billion to the central bank as tension over
Ukraine rose in March and joined others in slashing its deposits
in foreign banks where they could be frozen if more
international sanctions are imposed.

The movement of funds by Gazprombank, revealed in data
published by the central bank, means that at the beginning of
April its foreign currency on deposit at the central bank
dwarfed those of other major Russian banks.

Apr 17, 2014

Moscow shares up on Ukraine talks, rouble stronger

MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) – Russian shares and the rouble
rose on Thursday, as investors drew hope from talks in Geneva to
resolve the political crisis in Ukraine, shrugging off ominous
remarks from President Vladimir Putin about his “right” to
deploy troops there.

At market close at 1500 GMT the rouble-denominated MICEX
share index was up 0.5 percent to 1,330 points, while the
dollar-denominated RTS had risen 1.6 percent to 1,173 points,
helped by a stronger rouble.

Apr 9, 2014

Surge in Russian capital outflows adds to economic woes

MOSCOW, April 9 (Reuters) – A surge in capital outflows from
Russia underscores how international tensions over Ukraine are
adding to the woes of Russia’s already struggling economy.

Russia’s central bank has published balance of payments data
that showed an estimated $63.7 billion in net capital outflow in
the first three months of this year – as much as the $63 billion
in outflows seen during the whole of 2013.

Apr 8, 2014

Factbox – Costs and benefits from Russia’s annexation of Crimea

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is getting out its chequebook to bankroll the region of Crimea, newly incorporated into Russia following its rapid annexation last month.

Moscow has pledged to spend billions of dollars on everything from higher pensions to a bridge linking the region to Russia, with almost $7 billion (4 billion pounds) earmarked this year alone.