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GRU chief Igor Korobov dies in Moscow of serious illness
Colonel-General Igor Korobov, the head of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, died on November 21. He was 63 years old. Korobov died of an illness, but it was not specified what kind of illness he had. Officials with the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation said that Igor Korobov earned many state awards during his service as the chief of military intelligence (known for the Russian initials as GRU), including the highest honour - the title of Hero of Russia.Igor Korobov was born in the city of Vyazma on August 3, 1956. He graduated with honours from the flight department of the Stavropol Higher Military Aviation School of Pilots and Navigators and the Military Academy of the Soviet Army. He served in the structures of the GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.Korobov headed the GRU in January 2016 after the previous chief of the department, Igor Serguna, died a sudden death.Korobov was put on the US sanctions list in late 2016. The list was approved by the Barack Obama administration in connection with Russia's alleged attempts to interfere in the US presidential elections through hacker attacks. In September 2018, Korobov was put into the US sanctions list again within the framework of the CAATSA law. The sanctions affected Russian officials associated with the defence industry and intelligence sectors.It was reported that in the middle of September, Korobov was summoned to the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Supposedly, Korobov fell ill upon his return home. It was also said that he  was supposed to be dismissed from his position before the end of the current year. Russia's military intelligence, commonly known as GRU (in Russian - Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye, which translates as the Main Intelligence Directorate) has found itself in a string of major international scandals lately. The biggest one of them was the poisoning of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK. The British authorities held Russia accountable for the incident in Salisbury and found the alleged perpetrators of the attack - two Russian military intelligence officers known under the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga).
(Thu, 22 Nov 2018 11:32:00 +0300)

Putin wants Russian army rearmed almost completely by 2021
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the large-scale re-equipment of the Armed Forces will help preserve strategic parity and protect Russia from external threats."By 2021, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the army and navy should be at least 70 percent," Putin said at a meeting in Sochi.Putin noted that such a large-scale reequipment of the troops make it possible to solve a complex of tasks that the Russian army is facing at the moment. On October 25, the president ordered to raise the level of combat and operational training of the  Russian troops taking into consideration the experience that Russia has gained in Syria.
(Tue, 20 Nov 2018 18:21:00 +0300)

US interferes in election of Interpol president, Kremlin believes
A call from US senators to vote against the Russian candidate for the position of the head of Interpol is an act of interference in the electoral process, Kremlin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The Kremlin responded to the publication of an open letter from US senators, in which they urged  the administration of the US President and members of the Interpol General Assembly to vote against Alexander Prokopchuk, a Russian candidate, for the position of the head of the International Criminal Police Organisation. According to Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin saw the letter. "Perhaps, this is a kind of interference in the electoral process," Peskov said adding that one should wait for the results of the election to be exposed. The letter from US senators was published on the website of one of its authors - US Senator Roger Wicker. In the letter, Wicker, as well as Democrats Jen Sahin, Chris Koons and Republican Marco Rubio, wrote that the election of Alexander Prokopchuk of Russia as President of the International Criminal Police Organisation would be akin to putting a fox at the head of a chicken house.US officials also noted that Russia abuses Interpol on a regular basis to prosecute political opponents, dissidents and journalists, while Prokopchuk, in their opinion, was personally involved in this strategy of intimidation.The election of the president of Interpol is to take place on November 21. In addition to Prokopchuk, acting Interpol chief, a native of South Korea, Kim Jong Yang, will take part in the campaign. Alexander Prokopchuk has been serving as vice president of Interpol since 2016. Prior to that, from 2006 to 2011, he worked as deputy head of the national central bureau of Interpol at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. Also read: What's China going to do to Interpol president?
(Tue, 20 Nov 2018 14:32:00 +0300)

Russia to raise sunken floating dock
The PD-50 floating dock that sunk in Murmansk will be raised from the bottom of the sea, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov told reporters on Monday.The minister also said that a new dock could be acquired to complete the repairs of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. He stressed that the accident with the floating dock will not affect the repairs schedule of the aircraft carrier, because the docking was planned either in the summer of next year or in the spring of 2020.The PD-50 floating dock sank on the night of October 30 at the 82nd dockyard (owned by Rosneft) in Murmansk at the time when Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was exiting the repairs facility. When the ship was leaving the floating dock, its tanks were filled with water causing the dock to sink quickly. The deck of the aircraft carrier was damaged when a 70-ton tower crane crashed on it. The Admiral Kuznetsov is currently staying at the 35th dockyard of Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre. Four people were injured in the incident, two of them were taken to intensive care. One of the injured men died on November 18. Another person is still missing. It is believed that the flooding of the dock occurred because of the violation of the rules of technical operation of ship-raising facilities.The PD-50 was Russia's largest and one of the world's largest floating docks. It was built in Sweden in 1980 to the order of the USSR Navy. The dock is 330 meters long and 67 meters wide; its carrying capacity is 80,000 tons.
(Tue, 20 Nov 2018 12:08:00 +0300)

Putin completely satisfied with oil price of $70 per barrel
One should ensure the optimal oil price for consumers and producers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference in Singapore."One needs an optimal price for both producers and consumers. The price that we've had just recently - about $70 per barrel - is fine with us," Putin said adding that one should not restrict oil output. Putin also said that the Russian budget was calculated on the price of $40 per barrel. "This gives us an opportunity to feel confident, to work calmly and achieve very good results, which are reflected in macroeconomics," Putin said noting that this year Russia's budget will "most likely" have a surplus. With a minimum external debt of 15% of GDP and a positive trade balance of $100-120 billion, there is a "good base" to achieve higher GDP growth rates and deal with structural changes.On November 13, oil prices fell by almost seven percent - by $4.65. January futures for Brent closed at $65.47 a barrel, whereas December futures for WTI crude also fell by $4.24 to $55.69 per barrel. However, on November 14, oil prices (Brent) climbed higher than $66 per barrel.
(Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:25:00 +0300)

Putin sees no drama if Russia misses Davos forum
Russia's absence at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos will not affect the authority of the country, President Putin said at a news conference following the summit in Singapore. "The authority depends primarily on the economic power of a country, on the structure of its economy," Putin said adding that such factors as technological development, GDP growth and macroeconomic indicators also play an important role at this point. Making a reference to Russia, Putin also mentioned such indicators as low inflation, budget surplus or its minimum deficit, as well as low external debt.Putin noted that the Russian authorities achieve their goals in general, "and we feel confident," he said. Earlier, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Moscow would not take part in the forum in Davos, unless its organizers lift restrictions for Russian businessmen. On November 6, it was reported that VTB chief Andrei Kostin, Renova CEO Viktor Vekselberg and co-owner of UC Rusal Oleg Deripaska were not invited to the forum in Davos this year because of the sanctions that the US authorities had imposed on them. Speaking in Singapore, Putin also said that Russian businessmen are "free to decide" whether they should take part in the forum.
(Thu, 15 Nov 2018 14:16:00 +0300)

Russian PM threatens not to go to World Economic Forum in Davos
Russian officials and representatives of state-run companies will not go to Davos unless organisers of the economic forum lift restrictions for businessmen who fell under US sanctions.If organisers of the economic forum in Davos do not revise their decision about invitations to Russian businessmen, Moscow will not send state officials and representatives of companies with state participation to the forum, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said."Then no one will go there," Medvedev said adding that the decision not to let Russian entrepreneurs take part in the Davos forum was "very strange, to say the least." Medvedev also said that he discussed the situation with Swiss President Alain Berset. According to Medvedev, Mr. Berset promised to "make inquiries."On November 6, it was reported that VTB chief Andrei Kostin, Renova CEO Viktor Vekselberg and co-owner of UC Rusal Oleg Deripaska were not invited to the forum in Davos this year because of the sanctions that the US authorities had imposed on them. "Deripaska, Kostin and Vekselberg became who they are today not because of the Davos Forum, but the Davos forum became a forum owing to such businessmen," Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The World Economic Forum holds annual meetings at the end of January in Davos, Switzerland, where businessmen, politicians and economists from all over the world come together to discuss not only economic, but also business, political and humanitarian issues. In 2019, the world Economic Forum in Davos will be held on January 22-25.
(Tue, 13 Nov 2018 19:00:00 +0300)

Capital outflow from Russia sets new records
The net capital outflow from Russia during the first ten months of 2018 made up $42.2 billion, a report from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation said. This is three times as much as during the same period in 2017. Moreover, this is the largest figure of capital outflow that Russia has seen since 2014. According to the Central Bank, there are two main factors that make the outflow of capital grow. First off, Russian banks pay their foreign debts. Secondly, other sectors of economy invest in foreign assets. Earlier, the Central Bank reported the net outflow of $31.9 billion in January-September of 2018. Thus, as much as $10.3 billion were withdrawn from Russia in October. It is worthy of note that Russia managed to improve its trade balance: its surplus amounted to $154.6 billion vs. $90.5 billion a year earlier. In addition, foreign exchange reserves (gold reserves) of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation have grown by $35.7 billion. The National Welfare Fund played a significant role in the trend: the reserves of the fund were growing owing to oil and gas super-profits (with the price of oil over $40 per barrel).According to the Central Bank, the outflow of capital from Russia for 2018 may reach $66 billion. This will be the largest indicator since 2014 ($152 billion), when the West imposed its first sanctions on Russia.
(Tue, 13 Nov 2018 18:55:00 +0300)

Mikhail Gorbachev shares his thoughts on nuclear war
Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR, shared his thoughts on the nuclear war. Mikhail Gorbachev is surprised that top officials from different countries, the general public and mass media talk about the nuclear war as if it may break out at any moment. They discuss possible scenarios, potentials and outcomes, Gorbachev regrettably said.The tensions between the United States of America and the Russian Federation have been getting increasingly stronger, Mikhail Gorbachev admits. However, one must do their best to try to avoid a tragic development such as a nuclear war. There will be no winner in a nuclear war, even though some may think otherwise, Gorbachev said. In the past, world leaders had taken joint efforts to overcome vestiges of the Cold War and avoid a much more serious collision. The world managed to draw attention to more important and relevant issues, such as security, ecology, and health care, Gorbachev pointed out. Today, he believes, one must preserve what has been achieved before.
(Fri, 09 Nov 2018 14:27:00 +0300)

Without INF Treaty, USA can destroy Russian nuclear weapons easily
Former chief of staff of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Viktor Yesin, shared his opinion on the Russian system of automatic nuclear retaliation known as the "Perimeter." In the West, he system is known as the "Dead Hand."According to Viktor Yesin, Russian weapons may simply be ineffective in case of an open armed confrontation. The point is about the withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty, which regulates the elimination of short and medium range missiles. The "Perimeter" functions perfectly and has passed all stages of preparation and verification, Viktor Yesin said. The system can be used only if all of Russia's other nuclear weapons are destroyed as a result of the enemy's attack. The specialist is convinced that the United States can easily destroy Russia's nuclear arms. Without the INF Treaty, the USA will be able to deploy as many ballistic missiles as possible in Europe. According to Yesin, the Americans will thus be able not only to destroy Russian nuclear weapons, but to intercept them if Russia launches missiles to retaliate. The former Chief of Staff of the Strategic Missile Forces believes that Russia must revise its nuclear doctrine as soon as possible. Also read: Russia's secret shield: Perimeter, aka Dead Hand
(Fri, 09 Nov 2018 13:50:00 +0300)

Financial bubble in Russia about to burst as mortgage debt reaches all-time high
The Federal Bailiff Service (FSSP) has provided a report about the total debt that Russian citizens hold. According to the agency, Russians citizens owe a total of 3.8 trillion rubles (about $264 billion) as of October 1, 2018.The FSSP report said that there were 31.3 million enforcement proceedings pending as of early October 2018.Over the course of one year, the amount of debt has increased by 5.5 percent, or 0.2 trillion rubles. In late October, it was reported that the mortgage debt in Russia reached an absolute historical maximum and was evaluated at 2.07 trillion rubles. As many as 1.3 million Russians cannot leave the territory of the Russian federation because of their debts (the FSSP prohibits debtors from leaving the country). 
(Thu, 08 Nov 2018 16:07:00 +0300)

Washington's draconian measures may ruin relations with Russia completely
Washington is going to introduce a second package of sanctions against Russia in connection with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. According to US State Department spokesperson Heather Neuert, there was no confirmation to prove that Russia had fulfilled the conditions stipulated by the 1991 law on the control of chemical and biological weapons.According to US authorities, Russia has been involved in a series of poisonings, including the March 4 attack in the UK, when former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury.The first package of sanctions was introduced in August. The sanctions banned the sale of weapons, as well as dual-use goods and technologies to Russia. US officials also said that the United States would take more stringent measures against Russia, if it turns out by November that Russia refuses to cooperate with international experts in the field of chemical weapons.If the second package of sanctions comes into force, US banks will be prohibited from giving loans to the Russian government, except for loans for the purchase of food or agricultural products. The sanctions will ban mutual trade, but US companies will still be allowed to export agricultural goods. Diplomatic relations between the United States and the Russian Federation will either be limited or frozen. To crown it all, the US will impose restrictions on Russian airlines that the Russian government controls. Thus, the sanctions will affect Aeroflot, one of Russia's major airlines.The law will also provide personal sanctions against people involved in the distribution of chemical weapons. Imports of products or services produced by sanctioned companies to the United States will be forbidden.Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the USA would not be able to harm Russia with new sanctions. If necessary, the government will support large companies, including those that cooperate with Iran, Medvedev said. "Nothing critical will happen, I'm sure of that. But all this is unpleasant and, of course, we will be forced to make certain decisions. If necessary, we will make decisions to support certain companies, large companies, if they find themselves under such sanctions," Medvedev said. "Certainly, we will endure all this, but we will have to spend our energy on this," he added regrettably.
(Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:11:00 +0300)

Russia to cut number of liquor stores to increase life expectancy
The number of stores selling alcohol and tobacco is to be reduced considerably in Russia already in the near future. As part of "Demography" national project, the Russian government intends to take a number of measures to increase the average life expectancy in Russia to 80 years by 2030.To achieve the goal, one needs to considerably reduce the consumption of alcohol and tobacco i the country, experts say. Price, space and time constraints are the most effective methods in the struggle  against bad habits, specialists believe. Thus, the Russian government proposed to establish a special limit on the number of liquor stores depending on how many people live in a particular settlement. There are many liquor stores in Russia already, but many of them sell food as well. Most customers prefer not to go to two different places to buy both drinks and snacks. Therefore, shopkeepers continuously try to receive licenses to sell alcohol together with food, and the number of such liquor and food stores has been growing in Russia lately.
(Tue, 06 Nov 2018 16:27:00 +0300)

Russia increases number of cruise missiles 30 times
The number of cruise missiles in the Russian army has increased 30 times in the past six years. An article posted on the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper of the Russian Armed Forces says that Russia has had a breakthrough in supplying long-range precision weapons, such as Iskander-M tactical missile systems, as well as submarines and surface ships armed with Caliber missiles. As a result, the number of land, sea and air-based carriers has increased by more than 12 times, while the number of high-precision cruise missiles has grown by more than 30 times.In addition, the Russian army has established special units that elaborate plans for the use of high-precision weapons and prepare flight missions for cruise missiles. "As a result, full-fledged groups of carriers of high-precision weapons have been created capable of using missiles to strike targets at a distance of up to 4,000 km," the newspaper said. In the Crimea, a self-sufficient group of forces was established. The group includes a naval base, an army corps, an aviation division and an air defense division. The Black Sea Fleet has state-of-the-art submarines and frigates armed with Caliber cruise missiles. Russia's coastal forces in the Crimea have Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems that guarantee the protection of the Crimea and secure the interests of Russia in the Black Sea region.
(Tue, 06 Nov 2018 13:35:00 +0300)

Russia’s gold reserves exceed 2,000 tons for the first time
In the third quarter of 2018, the Bank of Russia acquired a record 92.2 tons of gold, a report from the World Gold Council (WGC) said. The report was published on Thursday, November 1. Thus, Russia's gold reserves have exceeded 2,000 tons for the first time. Presently, the Russian Central Bank accounts for more than 17 percent of world's gold and foreign exchange reserves. The cost of Russia's gold reserves based on the price of 1,214.8 dollars per troy ounce (as of October 31), is evaluated at more than 78 billion dollars. According to the report, net purchases of gold by central banks in the third quarter amounted to 148.4 tons. Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey acquired most. In August, Dmitry Tulin, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, said that gold remains "an absolute guarantee against legal and political risks." In May, Russia left China behind and was ranked fifth in the world in terms of gold reserves. Russia has been increasing gold reserves against the backdrop of the decline of the Russian ruble. In addition, Russia dropped out of the list of 33 largest holders of US public debt, having reduced the amount of US bonds at its disposal to 30 billion dollars in July. In August 2018, Russia's share in US government bonds dropped to $14 billion.  
(Fri, 02 Nov 2018 13:06:00 +0300)

US dollar deposits in Russia in danger
The Russian Federation may abjure the US dollar in its economy. Naturally, such a move will entail serious consequences for the country. Experts in the field of economics note that the first priority objective for the Russian economy would be security. If Russia abandons the US dollar, the country should be prepared for more restrictions that will inevitably follow. Yet, the Russian government has no intention to put spokes in the wheels of those citizens, who keep their savings in US dollars. Residents of large cities of Russia will suffer in the first place. According to official information, about 80 billion dollars circulate in large Russian cities.If the government decides to abandon the dollar, the majority of Russian citizens will want to cash their bank deposits and receive their US dollar savings back. Not that long ago, it was reported that the government would have to convert people's dollar deposits in rubles against their will. According to experts' estimates, Russian banks have accumulated a total of $50 billion should the population panic, although such a scenario is unlikely. The issue of de-dollarization of the Russian economy has been the talk of the day for quite a while, but it still remains a closed book to all.
(Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:04:00 +0300)

Russia to field new anti-satellites missiles for MiG-31 interceptor already soon
The United States believes that Russia has deployed  combat laser stations in space to be able to down US satellites. Military expert Viktor Murakhovsky said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that the development of airborne anti-satellite weapons was launched back during the Soviet times. "There's the MiG-31 fighter aircraft that carries such anti-anti-satellite missiles - the aircraft was developed during the Soviet era. Photos of MiG-31 fighter-interceptors armed with mass-dimensional models of anti-satellite missiles appeared a while ago, but it took the Americans about three months to react. I think that we will finish the trials within a short period of time to field the missiles soon," the expert told Pravda.Ru. "Russia is not the only country that develops such weapons. China has conducted several tests of anti-satellite arms too and shot down two or three of its old satellites. The Americans also have such weapons, for example, aerospace aircraft, such as X-37, X-36, X-43, X-47, which can also shoot  satellites down from orbit. For the time being, there are only three countries in the world that can have such weapons - United States, Russia, and the People's Republic of China."As for the placement of laser systems is space, one should understand that they cannot be deployed in space because they are too cumbersome for the purpose. Look at Russia's Peresvet mobile laser complex and the dimensions of its power plant. Look at American complexes deployed on warships or Boeing airplanes. It is clear that no one has either the power or capabilities to take such systems into space," Viktor Murakhovsky told Pravda.Ru. 
(Fri, 26 Oct 2018 17:42:00 +0300)

Kremlin welcomes Saudi Arabia's stance on Khashoggi's murder
The Kremlin welcomes the position of the royal family of Saudi Arabia, which declared its interest in a thorough investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We've heard the statement from the royal family condemning this murder, about the non-participation of the royal family to this. Everything else is a matter of investigation, which the royal family itself wants. We welcome this," said Peskov.According to Peskov, the question of whether Moscow believes the statements from Saudi monarchs about their noninvolvement in the crime is inappropriate. "There is an official statement from the King, there's also a statement from the Crown Prince. No one should have any grounds not to believe," he added.On 25 October, the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, called Vladimir Putin. During the telephone conversation with the Russian president, Saudi king announced his intention to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of the journalist to bring criminals to justice.On October 24, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince called the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi a heinous crime that had no justification. Also read: Who killed Jamal Khashoggi?
(Fri, 26 Oct 2018 13:47:00 +0300)

Kremlin alarmed by reports about US military behind drone attack on Russia's airbase in Syria
The Kremlin found "alarming" the information about the participation of US military in targeting the drones that had attacked the Russian air base in Syria's Khmeymim, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on October 25.  "This is very disturbing information. There is no doubt that our military will make their conclusions. They have actually already analysed the situation and it is up to the military to clarify the details," Peskov said.  When asked about a possibility of political consequences, as well as about a possibility for the topic to be discussed during the upcoming meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump, Peskov said that "one cannot exclude this." 
(Thu, 25 Oct 2018 13:37:00 +0300)

Russian government wants people to pay more for public transport during rush hours
Dynamic rates may appear for subway, buses and other types of public transport in Russia to make the fare cheaper during the day and more expensive during rush hours, officials with the Ministry for Transport said.  The authors of the proposal believe that such a measure would address the problem of half-empty transport in the afternoon and make morning and evening passenger traffic less intensive. Such an initiative will be beneficial to housewives, retirees and employees working on flexible schedules, representatives of the Ministry for Transport said. The officials did not specify how the move would affect the working population. 
(Thu, 25 Oct 2018 12:58:00 +0300)