Moldovan parliament to probe into JV Moldovagas’ operations.

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CHISINAU, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The Moldovan parliament will investigate the activities of the Moldovan-Russian joint venture Moldovagas.

The probe was initiated by the faction of the Liberal-Democratic Party.

The chairman of the parliamentary economic commission, Veaceslav Ionita, said the lawmakers had questions about the joint venture’s high gas tariffs.

“It is important for us to determine why manipulations with the currency exchange rate and the company’s losses became possible and what the investment policy was like. How much consumers paid for this and who is to blame,” he said. “And also, whether governmental structures were involved in this or not,” he added.

The commission will probe into the joint venture’s operations over the last five years and present its finding sin October.

This is the second scandal involving gas suppliers. In May, it became known that a subsidiary, Chisinau-Gas, had used fraudulent schemes for settlements with consumers. The prime minister, Liberal-Democratic Party leader Vlad Filat ordered a probe into Moldovagas’ activities, but the company’s internal security service found the malfeasants without an external investigation.

.Putin calls for clear training criteria for specialists to meet labour market needs.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for working out clear training criteria for specialists in line with the needs of the labour market.

“If our specialists are hired by major firms, this means – excuse the word – our product is competitive and our training is good,” Putin said at a meeting with members of the expert Council under the Agency for Strategic Initiatives on Wednesday, July 27.

“Our system of education still turns out highly professional specialists,” Putin said. “But our economy does not always absorb this ‘product’, and we have to work on this.”

He believes it necessary to “study the needs of the labour market and adjust the system of education for them. Otherwise, it will malfunction”.

“Workforce moves where the conditions are best,” he added.

“If we work out quality criteria [for the training of specialists], we will introduce them gradually,” the prime minister said.

“A diploma alone is not enough today, but we must understand what else is needed,” he said.

.French company to upgrade Ashgabat’s power system.

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ASHGABAT, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov met with French company Schneider Electric CEO Henri Lachmann on Wednesday, July 27, to discuss projects aimed at upgrading of Ashgabat’s power system.

The projects were worked out and presented by the French company for the Turkmen president, the presidential press service said.

“A developed and modern power industry is an important and inalienable part of the national economy of Turkmenistan,” Berdymukhamedov said.

He stressed his country’s interest in innovative technologies possessed by leading international companies.

Berdymukhamedov and Lachmann discussed Schneider Electric’s proposals how to ensure continues and fault-free power supplies to Ashgabat and modernise the whole power system in Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen leader welcomed the French company’s plans to open its representative office in Ashgabat, where it will train and retrain specialists and develop new projects.

According to Turkmenistan’s economic development strategy, national power generation should increase to 26.38 billion kilowatt-hour by 2020 and the export of electricity should reach 6 billion kilowatt-hour annually.

.Ukraine raises full sum for Chernobyl projects.

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KIEV, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine has raised the full sum needed for its Chernobyl projects, the Finance Ministry’s press service said.

“Taking into account April’s donor conference in Kiev and additional obligations assumed by France, the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the need for funding for the Chernobyl project in the amount of 740 million euros has been met in full,” the press service said.

On July 26, the EBRD Board of Governors approved an additional contribution of 70 million euros to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund and the Nuclear Safety Account. Prior to that, the Bank had provided 120 million euros for these purposes.

Ukraine raised 550 million of the needed 740 million euros at the donor conference in Kiev on April 19, 2011. After the conference a number of countries agreed to contribute as well.

On April 26, 2011, it was 25 years since the Chernobyl disaster. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster occurred on April 26, 1986. An explosion in one of the reactors led to radioactive contamination of an area within 50 kilometres.

It will take about 100 years to decommission the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where a big accident occurred in 1986, first deputy head of Ukraine’s agency that controls the exclusion zone around the station, Dmitry Bobro, said.

“The period of decommissioning is one hundred years. The reason is considerable radioactive contamination and the condition of the casing over destroyed reactor No. 4,” he said on Monday, March 28.

Bobro said about 125 million U.S. dollars would be needed for this annually in the next five years.

Work started in September 2010 to build a new casing over reactor No. 4. Ukraine hopes to complete the work in 2015.

Fallout of 190 tonnes of radioactive substances was one of the consequences of the nuclear accident in Soviet Ukraine. Eight out of 140 tonnes of the fuel from the exploded reactor had erupted into the air. People at Chernobyl were exposed to radiation 90 times stronger than that after the bombing of Hiroshima, and an area of 160,000 square kilometres was contaminated with radiation.

In addition to Ukraine and Belarus, 19 Russian regions with a population of 2.6 million people were contaminated.

Correspondent Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Yablokov said that life in the area 50 kilometres around the nuclear power plant will never be possible because of plutonium contamination. Plutonium’s half-life is 300,000 years.

In his words, the size of the hazardous areas will decrease with time, but large territories outside the 50-kilometre zone will remain dangerous for health for 180,000-200,000 more years.

Yablokov stressed that about five million people are living in these territories in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said earlier that no one state could cope with the aftermath of such nuclear disasters as Chernobyl or Fukushima-1 and called for joint efforts to respond to such emergencies.

“Only a community of states can effectively respond to such tragedies,” Yanukovich said. “The world has been rattled by natural disasters which make safe operation of nuclear facilities a particularly pressing issue.”

Ukraine raised over 500 million euros at the recent conference marking the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Yanukovich thanked the European Commission for the financial support.

The European Commission confirmed its readiness to provide an additional 110 million euros for finishing the construction of a new casing for the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The European Commission is the main donor for the Shelter Project at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso Barroso said.

The European Commission is ready to provide 110 million euros for finishing the project.

Barroso assured Yanukovich that Ukraine could count on his support on all matters related to the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Ukraine’s Energoatom company operates four nuclear power plants in Ukraine: Zaporozhye, South Ukrainian, Rovno, and Khmelnitsky HPPs.

Energoatom company and Russia’s Atomstroyexport have signed a contract for drafting a technical project for units 3 and 4 at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

In 2009, 15 percent of the world’s electricity came from nuclear power, despite concerns about safety and radioactive waste management. More than 150 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion were built.

More and more countries, developing and developed, come to understand the need for nuclear energy and there is a global trend called “nuclear Renaissance”. The most moderate forecasts indicate that up to 500 nuclear reactors will operate worldwide by 2030 (compared to 442 now).

Every year, nuclear power plants save 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in emissions in Europe and 270 million tonnes of CO2 in Japan. Russians nuclear power plants save 210 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the country, which ranks it fourth in the world in this respect.

The largest number of nuclear power plants (63 plants and 104 reactors) is operating in the United States. It is followed by France with 58 reactors, and Japan with 54 reactors. Russia has 10 nuclear power plants and 32 reactors.

.Customs services workshop opens in Tbilisi.

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TBILISI, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— A two-day customs workshop opened in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday, July 27, as part of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Programme.

The workshop was organised by the Polish Customs with the organisational support of Georgian Customs. The meeting’ s participants, representatives of EU membership administrations and the Eastern Partnership countries, will have debate on the customs services’ activities in the EU and EaP countries which is aimed at addressing convergence of law and practices in the customs area.

Exchange of best practices and knowledge gathering on the level of convergence of customs legislation and customs practices of the EaP countries to the EU solutions, will let to set priorities and strategic actions being implemented by the countries of the EaP with the support of EU member states and the European Commission.

The main areas of interest are: transit procedures, facilitation and simplification of border controls, mechanisms for improvement in the area of cooperation between border services and application of the management techniques in information, risk, random and targeted control. An important element is at the same time creating a transparent and fair functioning of the customs services in the EaP countries in order to improve conditions of customs clearance and of the smooth flow of cross-border traffic and to facilitate trade.

Based on the agreed priorities and actions, EaP countries will be able to apply for specific bilateral actions with the EU member states, the European Commission, such as twinning projects, internships, study visits, infrastructure and modernisation projects.

The outcomes of the Workshop will be presented to the Customs Union Group on the 5th September meeting and at the Customs 2013 High-Level Seminar on Eastern Neighbourhood Customs Cooperation “Towards Better Cooperation” scheduled on October 19-21, 2011 in Krakow.

.Roscosmos to coordinate new GLONASS programme with ministries.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) plans to coordinate funding for the GLONASS programme until 2020 within days, Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said.

“Practically all questions have been solved, and we will finalise the programme in July or early August at the latest,” he said.

Roscosmos requested 402 billion roubles for the programme until 2020. It is now negotiating with the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Development, and the Industry and Trade Ministry.

Russia’s satellite navigation system GLONASS will be restored in 2011, Popovkin said earlier.

“We will restore it this year. I have no doubt about that,” he said in an interview with Russia Today last week. “We plan to get GLONASS certified by all international organisations so that it could be used in full and thus get access to all international markets,” he added.

Popovkin believes that GLONASS “is an absolutely competitive product”.

“Even Great Britain is interested to use GLONASS, and representatives of the British space agency requested several meetings and events so that they could use it effectively,” he said.

GLONASS is more accurate than American GPS, Roscosmos Deputy Director Anatoly Shilov said earlier.

“Today the accuracy of GLONASS is 6 metres, and that of GPS is 7 metres,” Shilov said.

He said the accuracy of the Russian navigation system would have to be improved to 2-3 metres in the years to come.

In his opinion, this can be done only if the system operates at full capacity with 24 satellites.

Russia plans to launch another GLONASS-M satellite in August and another three in September-October from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

GLONASS system will become fully operational by the end of 2011.

The previous satellite, launched in late February 26, is designed to operate longer – ten years – and provide more accurate coordinates of down to 1.5 metres.

The next launch from Baikonur is scheduled for this summer. “At any rate, the system will become fully operational by the end of 2011, with 24 satellites covering the whole planet,” First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier.

He noted that the ground-based equipment was lagging behind the space assets.

The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is based on a constellation of active satellites which continuously transmit coded signals in two frequency bands, which can be received by users anywhere on the Earth’s surface to identify their position and velocity in real time based on ranging measurements. The system is a counterpart to the United States Global Positioning System (GPS) and both systems share the same principles in the data transmission and positioning methods.

The development of the GLONASS began in 1976, with a goal of global coverage by 1991. The system was completed 1995 but then rapidly fell into decay after the collapse of the Soviet economy. In 2001, Russia decided to restore the system and has diversified and accelerated the programme aiming at global coverage by 2009.

GLONASS was developed to provide real-time positioning and velocity estimation, initially for use by the Soviet military.

The fully operational GLONASS system consists of 24 satellites.

GLONASS is managed for the Russian Federation Government by the Russian Space Forces and the system is operated by the Coordination Scientific Information Centre (KNITs) of the Defence Ministry.

The operational space segment of GLONASS consists of 21 satellites in 3 orbital planes, with 3 on-orbit spares. The three orbital planes are separated 120 degrees, and the satellites within the same orbit plane by 45 degrees. Each satellite operates in circular 19,100 km orbits at an inclination angle of 64.8 degrees and each satellite completes an orbit in approximately 11 hours 15 minutes.

The ground control segment of GLONASS is entirely located within the former Soviet Union territory. The Ground Control Centre and Time Standards is located in Moscow and the telemetry and tracking stations are in St. Petersburg, Ternopol, Yeniseisk, and Komsomolsk-na-Amure.

The first GLONASS satellites were launched into orbit in 1982. Two Etalon geodetic satellites were also flown in the 19,100 km GLONASS orbit to fully characterise the gravitational field at the planned altitude and inclination. The original plans called for a complete operational system by 1991, but the deployment of the full constellation of satellites was not completed until late 1995 and early 1996. GLONASS was officially declared operational on September 24, 1993 by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation.

Work is underway to modernise the system. The new GLONASS-M satellites have better signal characteristics as well as a longer design life (7-8 years instead of the current 3 years). In the future, the system should use low mass third generation GLONASS-K satellites with a guaranteed lifespan of 10 years.

GLONASS-K is third generation Russian satellite for the GLONASS system. Unlike the previous generation of GLONASS-M satellites, this satellite can operate up to ten years (instead of 5-7 years for GLONASS-M), weighs less (935 kilograms compared to 1,415 kilogram GLONASS-M satellites), and will provide more accurate coordinates. It will also carry signals for the international Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue system.

.Nikitin elected Director of Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Andrei Nikitin was elected Director of Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) on Wednesday, July 27, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with members of the ASI Expert Council.

Nikitin is the Director-General of the management company Ruskompozit.

Artyom Avetisyan, President of the consulting group NEO Centre, has become Director responsible for New Business.

Dmitry Peskov, Director-General of the project company Metaver, will oversee Young Professionals, and Vladimir Yablonsky, Director of the Training and Methodological Centre for Information and Analytical Work, will be in charge of Social Projects.

“I am sure that you will organise the work of the agency properly,” Putin said.

He also expressed hope that the Agency would become “a substantial, noticeable and effective tool for advancing innovations and for constant movement forward”.

“I am confident that we will succeed. What is important is that all of you have the drive and audacity, readiness and ability to be successful,” the prime minister said.

He stressed that the Agency’s activities should be “bright and multifaceted, change existing algorithms of work, break rigidity, stereotypes and barriers that still abound”.

The contest commission studied and selected more than a thousand applications for senior positions in the Agency, short-listing about 200 people. On the basis of this list, the expert Council and the ASI Directorate headed by the Director-General will be formed.

The Agency was also selecting business ideas and projects – about 900 of them had been submitted.

The best project will be selected by the Expert Council after a thorough examination.

Earlier Putin approved key principles that will regulate the work of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, the composition of the tender commission that will select candidates for positions in ASI, and the rules of selection.

The Agency for Strategic Initiatives will have broad functions and powers for promoting innovative ideas and projects, Putin said at a presentation of the agency in late May.

Responding to a remark by one of the participants in the meeting who thanked the prime minister for a resolution that allowed his Tomsk-based company to launch a project bypassing bureaucratic hurdles, Putin said that if the creation of ASI would simplify the receipt of such resolutions from him of his colleagues and “push business forward” it will justify itself.

“But I think we will not confine ourselves just to that and will support [promising projects] with access to funding and without administrative barriers when for example registering ownership rights, including intellectual ownership rights, when advancing a product to the market, including the world market,” he said.

Putin suggested creating the agency at an interregional conference of United Russia on May 6. In his opinion, the agency should provide additional mechanisms “to young and promising people” for carrying out socially important ideas and projects and give them “social lifts” to senior positions in governmental, public, scientific and business circles.

ASI will seek to support innovative activities of young entrepreneurs in medium-sized business.

“A key task of the agency is to support those who have already done something, especially in medium-sized business,” Putin said, adding, “I mean innovative activities.”

The agency will focus on three main areas: new business, young professionals and social projects.

Speaking a new business, Putin said ASI would “promote landmark, interesting and promising projects” and people who have achieved certain results in their work.

It will support both current projects and concrete people with experience who have undertaken new projects.

Speaking of young professionals, Putin said ASI would “help to create a comprehensive system of professional qualification” and select the best education programmes.

As for social projects, the agency will engage in innovative activities in such fields as education, healthcare, culture, leisure time, and help to the elderly and disabled people.

Putin said ASI would not consolidate governmental programmes for the sake of its goals.

Replying to a question from the Volgograd-based company Evropa-Biofarm, Putin said, “ASI will not seek to consolidate governmental programmes but will select the most promising projects in certain sectors.”

He mentioned a federal target programme for the development of the medical industry “where investments have already been made” and said that ASI could play a role in determining which projects need support under this programme.

“Our market is dominated by foreign pharmaceutical companies” that earn billions of U.S. dollars in Russia, “while domestic products are scarce and can be fond only in the low-priced segment, and there are only a few high-tech products”, the prime minister said.

He stressed the need to develop the pharmaceutical and medical industries in Russia.

Putin said the newly created Agency for Strategic Initiatives would not compete with the Skolkovo Endowment.

“Skolkovo is a good project that seeks to bring together interesting people and important projects in a well equipped place. This is something different. This means network activities across Russia,” he said.

.Rostelecom rejects minority shareholders’ call for extraordinary meeting.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The Board of Directors of Russia’s national telecom company Rostelecom rejected minority shareholders’ call for an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

“Members of the Board of Directors came to the conclusion that there are no grounds to believe that the demand and the attached documents were properly executed and are fully consistent with legislation,” the company’s press service said.

It said the decision had been made on the basis of independent experts’ views.

However the chairman of the Board of Directors, Ivan Rodionov, stressed that the “Board is ready to revisit the demand for an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting after the faults and inconsistencies found in the documents have been remedied.”

He is confident that the Board of Directors is working in the interests of all shareholders.

Higher School of Economics Professor Ivan Rodionov was elected the new chairman of Rostelecom’s Board of Directors on July 20.

Rodionov was born on November 30, 1953 in Moscow. He graduated form the Economic Department of Moscow State University. In 1991-1993, he headed a section that assessed economic feasibility of projects at the Association of Business Cooperation “Scientific and Technical Progress.

Rodionov has also worked in such organisations as the Russian Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Onexim Bank, Alfa Bank, and AIJ Interros RSF Advisers.

The post of Rosletecom Board of Directors chairman became vacant after the resignation of Minister of Mass Communications Igor Shchegolev on June 27, immediately after his election to this body.

Prior to that, Shchegolev had asked the shareholders not to vote for him in connection with President Dmitry Medvedev’s order to government officials to resign from their positions in state-owned companies.

“The minister submitted a letter of resignation from the Board of Directors,” Shchegolev’s spokesperson Yelena Lashkina said.

He decided to resign even through President Dmitry Medvedev had not mentioned Rostelecom among the state-owned companies where ministers cannot hold positions.

By so doing, the minister decided “to observe not only the letter but also the spirit of the law,” Lashkina said.

“Since I was elected to the Board of Directors despite my request to the shareholders not to vote for me, I hereby inform you that I will not take part in the work of the Board of Directors and ask you not to notify me of its meetings and absentee voting, and not to send me any materials,” Shchegolev said.

The following officials were elected to Rostelecom’s Board of Directors: its President and CEO Alexander Provorotov, Svyazinvest Director-General Vadim Semenov, Higher School of Economics Professor Ivan Rodionov, Gazprombank Executive Director Anatoly Milyukov, members of the national register of independent directors under the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Sergei Kuznetsov, Renaissance Capital Board Chairman Alexander Pertsovsky, Svyazinvest Deputy Director-General Vladimir Bondarik, Russia TV Channel Director Anton Zlatopolsky, VEB Capital Director-General Yuri Kudimov, and Vnesheconombank First Deputy Chairman Anatoly Tikhonov.

As a result of the Svyazinvest reorganisation, Rostelecom, the main asset of state-owned Svyazinvest, was converted into an integrated company through a merger of its seven inter-regional companies and Dagsvyazinform.

Rostelecom has become the biggest universal national telecom operator with leading positions in key segments of the Russian telecom market.

Svyazinvest is the biggest Russian telecom holding company. Its main assets are seven inter-regional companies, the long-distance and international communication operator Rostelecom, and Russia’ s leading communication designer Giprosvyaz. By March 2011, Svyazinvest’s companies have to consolidate around Rostelecom, forming the biggest national telecom operator.

“We expect a new player to appear on the market next year and hope that it will be capable of fulfilling the tasks set to it by the government and on the other hand that it will not demand constant subventions and subsidies and will be able to survive and compete with other major players,” Shchegolev said earlier.

He confirmed that the government’s share in the new consolidated company would exceed 50 percent.

“Our estimates show that more than 50 percent will be controlled by the State,” the minister said, adding, “If in the future a decision is made to move on to a model that allows the company to be run without the full state-owned package, it will be a separate decision.”

The Russian Audit Chamber said controlling interest in Rostelecom should be held directly by the government.

The auditors came to this conclusion after a probe into the reorganisation of the Svyazinvest holding, whose inter-regional companies joined Rostelecom in April 2011.

Initially, the reorganisation plan envisaged that the government would retain control of the new unified company. However now the government controls no more than 53.2 percent of shares indirectly through Svyazinvest, the Deposit Insurance Agency, and Vnesheconombank.

.RF gov’t to discuss improvement of industrial security.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Presidium of the Russian government will discuss on Thursday improvement of the state policy in industrial security.

Head of Russia’s Federal service on ecological, technological and nuclear control /Rostechnadzor/ Nikolai Kutyin will present a draft concept of the state policy in industry security to 2020, the governmental press service reports.

A bill on indexation of excite rates in 2012-2014 will be presented by Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov. The document suggests indexing excites following the growth of average prices for consumer goods and according to the inflation forecast. At the same time, indexation of excites on alcohol and tobacco is planned to be organised in two stages – from January 1 and from July 1. the suggestion on higher excites on alcohol and tobacco follows the concept of the state policies to prevent consumption of tobacco for 2010-2015 and the concept to lower use of alcohol and to prevent alcoholism for the period to 2020. According to the concepts, the government will use price and taxation related measures to lower affordability of alcohol and tobacco, especially for the youth.

Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina will speak on ratification of a treaty on the Customs Union /Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan/. According to the agreement, the norms of the WTO referring to regulation of the Customs Union become a part of the Union’s legal system. In case of contradiction between rules of the WTO and the Customs Union, the norms of the WTO agreement are to be used. The suggestion refers not to all WTO norms, but only to those, which regulate legal relations referring to the Customs Union only.

Deputy Minister of Regional Development Vladimir Tokarev will speak on organisation of an inter-ministerial commission on preparations and organisation of international interregional economic forums.

Alexander Avdeyev, Russia’s Minister of Culture, will present suggestions on an organisational committee for preparations and organisation of celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mikhail Lermontov’s birthday.

First Deputy of the Ministry of Emergency Situations /EMERCOM/ Ruslan Tsalikov will suggest allocating to the Republic of Dagestan of housing certificates for those who became homeless following the destroying rains of September 2009.

.Russia to be a leading grain exporter – view.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Minister of Agriculture Elena Skrynnik is adamant that Russia will regain very soon its position in export of grain and will even become a leader.

Over less than a month, from July 1 Russia “has supplied 1.5 million tonnes, which is by 30 percent more against the past year,” she said in an interview to the Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Thursday. “Our major consumers are Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Israel, the EU,” she said.

Russia’s government has “made a decision on humanitarian supplies to Nicaragua and the DPRK,” she added.

From July 1, Russia’s government lifted the temporary ban on export of grain, which had been introduced in August of the past year following the low crops caused by the drought in the country’s several districts. In 2010, the grain crops dropped by 37 percent against the level of 2009 – to 60.9 million tonnes.

“As of today, we have threshed over 27 million tonnes of grain,” she said and forecasted the level of export at 18-20 million tonnes, should everything go smoothly.

She stressed that she is forecasting with care, but mentioned, that the country “has done everything to produce 85-90 million tonnes of grain over the current year.”

“The South and the North Caucasus federal districts are finalising gathering crops, and the information from there is positive,” she said. “The average production is 36 hundredweight per a hectare, while last year it was 32 centners.”

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev also expressed optimism at the meeting devoted to the situation in the grain market.

“Should everything develop at the present pace, we shall get the expected 90 million tonnes and even slightly more,” he said.

.Russia oil export duty to be lowered to $438,2 per tonne Aug 1.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Export duty on crude oil in Russia will be lowered from August 1 this year from 445.1 to 438.2 US dollars per tonne. The corresponding RF government resolution was published in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper on Thursday.

The Cabinet also approved retaining high duties on petrol in August – 394.4 US dollar per tonne. The tax on light petroleum products (light distillates, middle distillates, gasoil) next month will be 293.6 US dollars per tonne, and on heavy petroleum products (liquid fuels, lubricants, waste oils) – 204.6 US dollars.

The export duty on propane, butane, ethylene, propylene, butylene and butadiene from August 1, 2011 will be nearly by 10 dollars higher than in July – 182.8 dollars per tonne.

.Russia gold, currency reserves up on July 15-22.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves climbed by 2.4 billion US dollars from 528.5 billion dollars to 530.9 billion (or by 0.45 per cent) on July 15-22, the business news agency PRIME reported on Thursday with reference to the foreign and public relations department of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

The country’s foreign exchange reserves record registered on August 8, 2008 was 598.1 billion US dollars.

Since January 1, when the gold and foreign exchange reserves amounted to 479.379 billion dollars, this index has been raised by 10.75 percent.

.Kazakhstan raises oil products export duties.

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ASTANA, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Kazakhstan has raised export duties on oil products.

The light products’ duty makes 114.05 dollars per a tonne, dark products’ – 76.03 dollars, Kazakhstan’s governmental order published on Thursday reads. The duty on raw oil remains unchanged – at 40 dollars per a tonne.

The order comes into force in ten calendar days following the first official publishing.

From January 1 of the current year, export duty on oil has been raised twice from 20 to 40 dollars a tonne, the duty on light oil products was fixed at 98.13 dollars per a tonne, for dark oil products – at 65.42 dollars per a tonne.

Kazakhstan introduced export duties on oil and oil products for the first time in mid August, 2010.

.RF-Georgian WTO talks yield no result – RF negotiator.

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GENEVA, July 28 (Itar-Tass) —The Russian-Georgian WTO talks have yielded no result, Russian chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov told Itar-Tass.

At the same time, Medvedkov said discussions continued.

“It is obvious that we are entering a final stage. We’ll see their results. I hope the way that we want. Till now the talks have yielded no result, but we continue contacts,” the Russian negotiator said.

He recalled that under Switzerland’s auspices Russia and Georgia had held three rounds of talks.

Commenting on Wednesday’s consultations of the Working Group on Russia’s WTO Bid, Medvedkov stressed, “Georgia attended the informal consultations and took part in the discussions.”

Georgia insists “Russia fulfil its obligations, which envision trade with Georgia through legal crossing points and the legalisation of [Georgian] customs points on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian border”.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since a five-day war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008, which began when Georgian forces attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states two weeks after the conflict. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.

.RF, WTO should end consultations on meat in August – official.

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GENEVA, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russia and the WTO should end consultations on meat in August, Russian chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov told Itar-Tass.

Commenting on the Working Group on Russia’s WTO Bid informal consultations, Medvedev said, “The position of key suppliers and our stance are considerably bringing closer. But final agreement has not been reached yet because the talks involve over 20 countries. I believe that we will reach agreement today or tomorrow. In August this issue should be closed.”

He explained that Russia insisted on reducing quotas on pork and poultry imports.

Russia and the WTO approved registration requirements to export-import operations, tariff quotas and technical trade barriers. In the middle of September a series of meetings will be held to coordinate two remaining sections of a report by the Working Group – veterinary and phytosanitary measures, as well as investment measures related to trade. Both parties have not yet settled disagreements on rights to car assembly. Commenting on prospects for resolving this problem, Medvedkov said, “Russia has close positions with certain countries. And our stance does not coincide with the other. Work continues.”

The Working Group’s report should be amended due to the changes of the regulatory base in light of the creation of the Customs Union. The report will provide the basis for a final document on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

Speaking about Russia’s list on obligations for services, Medvedkov noted that the list “was finally ready on Wednesday”. As for a list on goods, he said it would be verified by the middle of October.

Medvedkov said the Working Group has also approved a technical schedule for resuming talks. The final session will take place on November 10-11, he said.

The schedule has been worked out in such way in order to complete all talks by the WTO ministerial meeting slated for December 15-17. “It is a technical schedule. We’ ll work in compliance with it,” the chief negotiator said.

He added, “If the technical schedule is observed, of course, we will have an opportunity to take a decision on Russia’s accession to the WTO at the ministerial conference in Geneva in December.”

In addition, Medvedkov told Itar-Tass that the Russian-Georgian WTO talks had yielded no result.

At the same time, Medvedkov said discussions continued.

“It is obvious that we are entering a final stage. We’ll see their results. I hope the way that we want. Till now the talks have yielded no result, but we continue contacts,” the Russian negotiator said.

He recalled that under Switzerland’s auspices Russia and Georgia had held three rounds of talks.

Commenting on Wednesday’s consultations of the Working Group on Russia’s WTO Bid, Medvedkov stressed, “Georgia attended the informal consultations and took part in the discussions.”

Georgia insists “Russia fulfil its obligations, which envision trade with Georgia through legal crossing points and the legalisation of [Georgian] customs points on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian border”.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since a five-day war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008, which began when Georgian forces attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states two weeks after the conflict. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.

The WTO has 153 members at present. Negotiations on the admission of a new member are held within the working group, which unites countries that have unsettled trade problems with the candidate.

As a rule, negotiations focus on four areas: accessibility to the goods market, agriculture, accessibility to the market of services, and systemic matters. The candidate must bring its national laws in correspondence with the WTO rules. Two-thirds of votes of WTO members are sufficient for the admission of a new member. Regularly, the accession process takes a decade.

Russia applied for membership in the WTO in December 1994. The number of its negotiating partners kept growing through the years, and the latest working group had 58 members – the largest working group ever in the entire history of the WTO. Six-year negotiations with the United States were the most difficult for Russia (the bilateral protocol was signed on November 19, 2006). The negotiations with the European Union also lasted for six years (the protocol was signed on May 21, 2004). Full consent was reached with the United States and the EU in the second half of 2010, and Russian officials said that Moscow was able to become a WTO member by the end of 2011.

.Severnaya Verf, Baltic Shipyard assessed at RUB 10-12 bln-USC.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — The shipbuilding enterprises of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) – Severnaya Verf (Northern Shipyard) and Baltic Shipyard are currently assessed at 10-12 billion roubles, USC President Roman Trotsenko said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass.

According to him, the previous owners withdrew many assets from these enterprises. “Baltic Shipyard is virtually bankrupt, and Northern Shipyard will be bankrupt in the near future,” Trotsenko predicts. “As of last year, these assets were worth about 20 billion roubles. However, a great deal was withdrawn from then during the year: infrastructure, workshops, communications, loads of debts.” He recalled that these assets were pledged to the Central Bank for 30 billion roubles and there are no chances to return these billions. “Now, I think, these assets are worth 10-12 billion roubles,” the USC president added.

Earlier, the corporation expressed an interest in purchasing Northern Shipyard and Baltic Shipyard. Last year, former member of the Federation Council Sergei Pugachev sent a letter to the USC with a proposal to buy the assets, but then the parties failed to agree on valuation. At present, both assets are pledged to the Central Bank in connection with the bankruptcy of Mezhprombank. According to an assessment of the Audit Chamber that was released in June, Northern Shipyard’s liabilities as of March 31 totalled 54.6 billion roubles, and Baltic Shipyard’s – 10.8 billion roubles. At the same time Northern Shipyard’s proceeds in 2010 amounted to 10.3 billion roubles, and net loss – to 982.6 million roubles. Baltic Shipyard last year gained only 1.2 billion roubles, getting 273 thousand roubles of net profit.

However, according to the Audit Chamber, both companies have outstanding debts: at the end of 2010 Northern Shipyard had a debt of 6.9 million roubles, and Baltic Shipyard as of March 31 – 317.9 million roubles.

Baltic Shipyard is one of the oldest shipyards in Russia. it is located in Saint Petersburg in the south-western part of the Vasilievsky Island. It is one of the three shipyards active in Saint Petersburg. Together with the Admiralty Shipyard it has been responsible for building a large part of Imperial Russian battleships as well as Soviet nuclear powered icebreakers. Currently it is specialising in merchant ships while the Admiralty yard specializes in diesel-electric submarines. The shipyard was founded in 1856 by the St. Petersburg merchant M. Carr and the Scotsman M. L. MacPherson. It subsequently became the Carr and MacPherson yard. In 1864 it built two monitors of the Uragan class. In 1874 the shipyard was sold to Prince Ochtomski. In 1934 the shipyard started work on the three prototypes for the Soviet S class submarine, based on a German design produced by the Dutch company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw. The Soviets renamed the shipyard Numbered Zavod 189 ‘im. Sergo Ordzhonikidze’ on 30 December 1936.

Severnaya Verf is located in St. Petersburg, a major shipyard producing both naval and civilian ships. Originally was founded exclusively for military shipbuilding. The priority market for Severnaya shipyard is military export to Asian countries as India, China and Vietnam. The shipyard was originally established in the early 1900s as the Severnaya Verf (Northern Shipyard) which is part of the Severnaya Verf Production Association. This association also includes an electrodes factory with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes annually and a furniture factory. The shipyard was formerly known as Soviet Shipyard No. 190, and between 1935- 1989 as Zhdanov Shipyard. Under the name Zhdanov Shipyard, various classes of destroyers and ASW frigates were built, including: late 1940s -the Skory class destroyer; during the 1950s – the Kotlin class destroyer; late 1950s – the Kanin class destroyer and the modified Kildin class guided missile destroyer; during the 1960s – the Kashin class guided missile destroyer; during the 1970s – the Krivak class frigate; late 1970s – the Sovremenny class destroyer; early 1980s – the Udaloy class destroyer; during 2000s – the Steregushchy class corvette; during 2010s – the Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigate.

United Shipbuilding Corporation is an open joint stock company in Russia which unites shipbuilding, repair and maintenance subsidiaries in western and northern Russia, and in the country’s Far East, to streamline civilian shipbuilding using military facilities. The corporation was established by a series of Presidential Decrees signed by President Vladimir Putin. According to the decree, the corporation has 3 subsidiaries: the Western Shipbuilding Centre in St. Petersburg, the Northern Shipbuilding and Maintenance Centre in Severodvinsk and the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Maintenance Centre in Vladivostok. The state owns 100 percent of the shares. United Shipbuilding Corporation also has a 50 percent stake in Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, a joint venture with STX Finland Cruise Oy.

.Putin discusses with EC head Russia WTO prospects.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso discussed issues of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the need to intensify the negotiating process from both sides, despite the summer vacations.

“A telephone conversation of RF Prime Minister Putin with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was held on the initiative of the Russian side,” the prime minister’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

According to him, the sides discussed outstanding issues on the agenda of Russia’s accession to the WTO.

“Putin confirmed Russia’s intention to continue the policy for accession to this organisation. He noted the need for intensification of the negotiating process from both sides, despite the ongoing summer-vacation period,” Peskov added.

Last month, RF President Dmitry Medvedev described Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation as groundlessly protracted. “Everything could have been completed earlier, but unfortunately, the process is dragged out,” he told a news conference after the Russia-EU summit, where EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso participated. This issue “still remains rather pressing,” Medvedev said. “We’ve made clear our position and hope for support of our European partners in the issue,” he said.

According to the European Commission, the EU is a strong supporter of Russia’s WTO membership. It is of fundamental importance for Russia’s economic reform, sustainable growth and investment climate. Moreover, once negotiations on WTO accession have been concluded, it will bring opportunities for a qualitatively new step in EU-Russia economic relations. Russia is the only major international economy which is not yet a member of WTO. Once Russia becomes a member, it will benefit from the rights and obligations set by the multilateral trading system of the WTO, including the possibility of recourse to the intergovernmental trade dispute settlement.

.APEC summit preparation experience useful for Vostochny spaceport.

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KHABAROVSK, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — To meet the deadlines for the commissioning of a new cosmodrome in the Far East, “it is necessary in the coming months to create a solid developer base here, to maximally use the capacities of enterprises of the Far Eastern region, to form the energy infrastructure,” RF President’s Plenipotentiary Representative in the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev said on Thursday during a visit to the zone of ·· the Vostochny Cosmodrome (Eastern Spaceport) construction.

Ishayev believes it is necessary “spread a special procedure in matters of construction, planning and funding” of Vostochny facilities. “Such a precedent has been created at construction sites of the APEC summit in Vladivostok,” he said.

“The spaceport will become a point of economic growth in the Amur region,” said the presidential envoy.

Ishayev believes that the top priority task is to accommodate people, as 10,000 people will be working here already in 2012. They need shelter, food, medical care. A separate single-industry town for at least 30,000 people will grow in the Amur region.

The presidential envoy, together with the region’s governor Oleg Kozhemyako, representatives of the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos), Federal Agency for Special Construction (Spetsstroi) and other agencies inspected from a helicopter the Vostochny construction zone, sites for the ground infrastructure facilities, as well as a number of facilities of Uglegorsk that will be preserved for the use at the new spaceport. Deputy Director General of the Centre for Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities Operation (TsENKI) Vladimir Ivanov told them about the survey work progress.

The participants in the meeting on the Vostochny Spaceport construction discussed the issues requiring urgent solution.

The spaceport will be located at an area of 700 square kilometres; about 1,600 facilities will be built there. The construction work will be launched in September 2011. However, the main construction volume is planned for the second quarter of 2012. The entire engineering and social infrastructure is to be created in 2.5 years.

The first launches of cargo spacecraft from the Vostochny Spaceport are scheduled for 2015. Launches of manned spacecraft are planned starting from 2018.

The Vostochny Cosmodrome is intended to reduce Russia’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan. Its construction is expected to be completed in 2018.

The cosmodrome will be located in the Svobodny and Shimanovsk districts of the Amur region, on the watershed of the Zeya and Bolshaya Pyora Rivers. The nearest city is Uglegorsk. Vostochny’s geographic location at 51 degrees north means that, to a given orbit, rockets will be able to carry almost the same amount of payload, as they can when launched from Baikonur. Other arguments for choosing this location include the ability to use sparsely populated areas and bodies of water for the rocket launch routes; proximity to major transportation networks such as the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the Chita-Khabarovsk highway; abundance of electricity production resources in the area; and the presence of the infrastructure of the former Svobodny Cosmodrome, on which the new spaceport will be based. The site’s location close to the Pacific Ocean will allow for easier transport of materials to the site, and will allow rockets to jettison their lower stages over the ocean.

It is planned to build seven launch pads at the site, including two for manned flights and two for space freighters. The first unmanned launch will take place in 2015. Russian engineers are looking to apply the knowledge gained from building the Soyuz launch facilities in Kourou spaceport and the Angara pad at Naro Space Centre in South Korea. As a cost-saving measure, no defensive military structures like those at Baikonur cosmodrome will be built at Vostochny.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made several statements emphasising the importance of the new cosmodrome. “The creation of a new space centre … is one of modern Russia’s biggest and most ambitious projects,” he said in August 2010. In January 2011, he ordered the government to complete the paperwork as soon as possible so that construction can start on schedule.

The work on the construction of automobile and railway roads and of the system of outer energy supply is to be started in 2011. There are also plans to finish developing documentation on the construction of infrastructure objects during the year. The general designer of the cosmodrome is Ipromashprom (Mechanical Engineering Project Institute). The main contractor is the Federal Agency for Special Construction. The new cosmodrome will enable Russia to launch all missions from its own soil, and to reduce Russia’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan. Currently, Baikonur is the only launch site operated by Russia with capability to launch manned flights and satellites to geostationary orbit. The Russian government pays a yearly rent of $115 million to Kazakhstan for its usage. Unmanned payloads to low-earth orbit can also be currently launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north-western Russia. The new site is intended mostly for civilian launches. Roskosmos plans to move 45 percent of Russia’s space launches to Vostochny by 2020, while Baikonur’s share will drop from 65 percent to 11 percent, and Plesetsk will account for 44 percent.

Development of the Vostochny Cosmodrome is expected to have a positive impact on the economy of the relatively poorly developed Russian Far East. The Russian government has a strategic policy to bring high-tech companies into the Far Eastern region, and several enterprises involved in the manned space flight program are expected to move their activities there when the new cosmodrome is completed. The development of the new site is also expected to dramatically increase employment in the towns of Uglegorsk, Svobodny and others. According to a 2009 estimate, the construction will cost 400 billion roubles ($13.5 billion). Along with the launch pads and processing facilities, an airport and a satellite city will be constructed. The city will be designed to accommodate for 35,000 people as well as for tourists. It will contain a full supporting infrastructure with schools, kindergartens and clinics. Architect Dmitry Pshenichnikov has stated that the city is to become a “one-of-its-kind scientific and tourist space town with a unique design and a beautiful landscape.” When completed, the cosmodrome will permanently employ 20,000-25,000 people.

.Russia to resume imports of vegetables from Bulgaria as of July 29.

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MOSCOW, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Federal Service for the Protection of Consumer Rights /Rospotrebnadzor/ has issued permission to restart the imports and sales of vegetables from Bulgaria to Russia as of July 29 upon presentation of the necessary certificates.

The latter should be issued “by the sanitary control agencies of the producer country” and guarantee the absence of the Escherichia coli bacteria in the products subject to exports to Russia.

Earlier, Rospotrebnadzor issued permissions to resume the imports of vegetables from Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Hungary.

“The special procedures for admittance of vegetables produced in the European Union to Russia’s territory will remain in effect until the spread of the disease caused by E. coli ceases completely and no new cases of it are registered over a period of ten days,” Rospotrebnadzor said in an official report.

.Russia to allocate 100 bln rbls for domestic tourism by 2018.

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MOSCOW, July 29 (Itar-Tass) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia will allocate almost 100 billion roubles until 2018 to develop domestic tourism.

“The period of operation of the federal goal-oriented program is set at eight years (2011-2018), and the amount of federal budget money allocated for implementing the program is 96 billion roubles,” Putin said at a meeting of the government presidium on Thursday.

“The funds are to be used for the most attractive investment projects, to be implemented in the territories with the largest tourism/recreation potential. As a result, we’re hoping that incoming tourist flow will increase by more than six times, from 3.6 million people to 23 million people by 2018. The number of citizens vacationing in Russia should increase by 1.5 times, from 29 million to 45 million, while the market of paid tourist services will grow 4.7 times, from 88 billion roubles to 417 billion roubles,” he said.

In his opinion, the country only uses 30 percent of its tourism potential, on the average. “In Russian towns, which have world famous cultural and historical monuments and nature sites, tourism is developing passively, unhurriedly,” he noted, “although Russia has resourc

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