Russia made a newsworthy decline in the 2012 civil rights and political liberties report compiled by US-based NGO Freedom House. Political freedom in Russia was compared to that in Iran and Venezuela. The Kremlin said it would not pay attention to the report.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov became the highest-ranking Russian politician to visit Myanmar. The energy-rich country which has a strategic location, however, remains an arena for the struggle for geopolitical influence between China and the US.
France will expand its military presence in its former colony Mali to 2,500 servicemen. The US, however, seems reluctant to join the international military operation against extremists there.
For the first time, the Palestinians have resorted to the Israeli strategy of building settlements in disputed territories. The PNA built its own settlement in an area where Israeli authorities had previously authorized the construction of its settlements.
The World Bank admitted delays in global economic recovery. The US and Europe remain the areas of greatest concern.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in the Gaidar economic forum in Moscow. He said that economic and political modernization should continue in Russia. The prime minister added that the government’s midterm economic growth target was annual GDP growth of five-percent.
(Kommersant, Vedomosti, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
OIL & GAS
Norway, Gazprom’s main rival on the European energy market, continues its efforts to seek out new European customers. The country is expected to boost its European gas sales by 16 percent in 2012, while Gazprom lost eight percent.
Serbia is to seek a discount on Russian gas, pledging South Stream assistance in return.
VEHICLES & ENGINEERING
The European car market contracted 7.8 percent in 2012, to a record low. The car market in Russia grew 11 percent.
Japan’s two largest air carriers, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines, grounded all Boeing-787 Dreamliners after a series of in-flight and ground incidents.
(Vedomosti, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia)
TELECOMS & IT
Most Russians are pleased with how the website blacklist works and do not oppose closing websites without a court ruling. Experts say Russians “value stability above freedom.”
VimpelCom Ltd. presented its new development strategy on Wednesday.
Facebook presented its Facebook Graph Search engine allowing to find information unavailable to other search engines.
BANKING & FINANCE
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan profits in the fourth quarter of 2012 exceeded all forecasts.
Russia’s first fifth-generation fighter jet took off for its first long flight.
75-year-old crime boss Aslan Usoyan was killed by a sniper in downtown Moscow on Wednesday. Experts believe that his death signaled the start of a criminal turf war.
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia)
Russia's Supreme Court cancelled the verdict for Ivan Belousov, convicted for involvement in the December 27, 2007 explosion at Moscow’s Manezh Square.
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
A Russian court on Wednesday rejected a plea from a jailed member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot to have her prison term deferred until her five-year-old son son is 14 years old. Mariya Alyokhina has already served more than half her two-year sentence.
Book sales plummet in Russia, while e-book sales grow.
Cycling could be dumped from the Olympic program following a doping scandal involving cyclist Lance Armstrong, IOC member Dick Pound said.
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