MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) Putin, Medvedev to sign nuclear deals / Russian ex-premier Kasyanov recognized in Europe / Ingushetia gets new president / Gazprom raises gas price for Ukraine, cuts it for EU / Lufthansa, Air France set to buy SSJ-100 planes / Moscow street named among Europe's most expensive shopping locations /
Putin, Medvedev to sign nuclear deals
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to sign a nuclear cooperation deal with Japan, while President Dmitry Medvedev will strike a similar agreement with India.
Russia is to supply enriched uranium to Japan and may build nuclear reactors worth $12 billion for India.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will go to Japan on November 3. According to the Japanese embassy, he will prepare the scene for Putin's visit, scheduled before the end of this year.
A Japanese diplomat said the Russian Prime Minister was likely to sign an agreement regulating Russian-Japanese nuclear cooperation. The document was expected to be signed during the G8 summit held on Hokkaido last July, but was not ready for signing.
The source said there were no fundamental differences between the sides on the essence of the document, whose signing was put off for technical reasons related to the two countries' complicated nuclear export control systems.
Anton Khlopkov, executive director of the Center for Political Studies (PIR-Center), a Russian think tank, said Japan wanted to import more enriched uranium from Russia because it can meet only 20%-25% of its nuclear requirements.
Japan is prepared to buy one third of Russia's uranium, while Russia would like to buy superior Japanese technology for the manufacturing of turbines and reactor shells for nuclear power plants.
President Medvedev is to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with India in New Delhi in early December, during his first visit to India, said a high-ranking source in the Russian Foreign Ministry.
A Kremlin official confirmed that the visit had been planned for early December.
The agreement became possible after the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a multinational body set up to reduce nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and retransfer of nuclear materials, adopted last September a special amendment allowing the supply of nuclear devices and materials to India as an exception to the rule that prohibits such deliveries to countries not covered by IAEA safeguards.
The U.S. was the first to sign a civilian nuclear agreement with India after that.
Russia has built two reactors for India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant. In February 2007, Russia and India initialed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of four more such units, each worth $3 billion, according to Khlopkov.
On November 1, Russia and Libya may sign a framework agreement on cooperation in nuclear generation, said a source involved in preparing the Moscow visit of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, which began yesterday. He said bilateral cooperation in power generation and military supplies were at the top of Qaddafi's agenda for talks with President Medvedev.
Russian ex-premier Kasyanov recognized in Europe
Mikhail Kasyanov's People's Democratic Union (PDU) movement became a full-fledged member of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) yesterday. The ex-premier's supporters consider they will now be allowed to shape European Liberals' position on key political issues, including Russia.
The European Liberals were not stopped by the failure of Kasyanov's party and his movement to get official registration in Russia.
Yelena Dikun, Kasyanov's adviser, said the Europeans understand the realities of Russian life (ELDR vice-president Kristiina Ojuland attended the PDU congress last summer) and see his organization as a de facto party.
Asked why the ex-premier's followers needed to join the European party, PDU presidium member Konstantin Merzlikin said: "It was to take part in shaping the political position of European Liberals on all key political issues, including Russia."
Yabloko had until yesterday been an associate member of ELDR. But as soon as they learned Kasyanov's movement decided to join the European party as a full-blooded member, Yabloko also wanted to raise its standing.
Europeans asked Yabloko representative Alexander Shishlov why his party was poorly cooperating with the PDU. He said Yabloko had voted for no-confidence in the Kasyanov government in 2000, and now the two organizations differed on one issue: "Russian democracy began having problems not in 2004, as Kasyanov says, but in 2000 when Vladimir Putin came into office."
Yevgeny Minchenko, head of the International Institute of Political Analysis, said membership of European structures had significance as a lobbying tool for countries setting sights on integration into the European Union: "Yulia Tymoshenko's Block and Our Ukraine are members of the European People's Party, and for them it is a positive thing." For Russian organizations, membership of a European party, which is not even as influential as the ELDR, is, in Minchenko's view a PR move, but not an effective one because "membership of a European party is not a competitive advantage for the Russian voter."
Ingushetia gets new president
The No.1 problem republic in the North Caucasus has changed its top men with a swiftness never seen before. Ingushetia's new chief, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was confirmed in his job on the day after outgoing President Murat Zyazikov resigned.
Such a development came as a complete surprise even to the deputies of the People's Assembly of the republic, which yesterday considered Yevkurov's candidacy submitted by Vladimir Ustinov, presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District.
The new chief is expected to deal first with the crime and corruption situation in the republic, and only then tackle the economy.
Yevkurov, aged 45, was deputy chief of staff in the Volga-Urals Military District before he was given his new appointment.
People in Ingushetia spent the night between Zyazikov's resignation and Yevkurov's appointment reveling.
"Recall the celebrations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia after Russia recognized their independence," said Magomed Khazbiyev, one of the opposition leaders. "People danced in the streets."
The opposition generally sees Zyazikov's departure from the post he held since 2002 as a response to protest rallies.
"The killing of our leader Magomed Yevloev (on August 31) was perhaps the last straw for the federal center," Khazbiyev said. "We are grateful to Dmitry Medvedev beyond measure for his wise decision."
The new president is expected first to decide the problem of Prigorodny refugees (as many as 19,000 people still cannot return to Ingushetia), to solve the crime situation (attempts on the lives of officials, policemen and ordinary people have become routine), to control corruption, and only then to promote economic growth.
Whether the opposition will bury the war hatchet once the new president is installed, is still an open question. "The alternative parliament will continue sitting," said its speaker Bamatgirei Mankiev. "We place big hopes on Yevkurov and will help him. But I have already told him that a man in the North Caucasus can easily discredit himself - he needs to break his word only once."
Gazprom raises gas price for Ukraine, cuts it for EU
Next year Russia may sell its natural gas to Ukraine at $230-$250 per 1,000 cubic meters, 22%-28% higher than in 2008, in order to compensate for losses from cutting prices for Europe.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said last summer, after the failed talks on Ukraine's gas debt, that the commercial gas price for Ukraine would be $400 per 1,000 cubic meters.
After that the sides drafted an intergovernmental agreement and a midterm contract on natural gas supplies, which ruled out the use of gas trader Rosukrenergo and stipulated the establishment of direct ties between the Russian gas giant and Ukraine's Naftogaz.
The two documents were to be signed during Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's visit to Moscow in early October, but the sides only signed the intergovernmental memorandum and put the contract aside until November.
Two Gazprom managers said Naftogaz must repay some $2 billion of its current debts to Rosukrenergo before the sides can go over to direct supplies.
Kommersant quoted a Gazprom source as saying the contract would be signed in November unless new political problems arise.
Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Troika Dialog, said the increase in gas prices for Ukraine should make up for Gazprom's losses from cutting prices for the EU.
Sergei Chelpanov, deputy head of Gazprom Export, a 100% subsidiary of Gazprom, officially announced yesterday that export gas prices for the EU would be cut to $350-$400 from $460-$520 next year.
He said Gazprom would earn $75-$77 billion from gas exports to Europe in 2008, with overall export revenues (including from export to the CIS and Baltic countries) expected at $100 billion.
Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom's director for finance and economics, said this week that gas export revenues were expected to fall in 2009.
Maxim Shein of Broker Credit Service said the energy giant's revenues would plunge by $2-$12 billion depending on the average annual oil prices used as the basis for calculating natural gas prices.
Irina Shcherbina, director of Ukraine's Institute of the Budget and Socio-Economic Studies, said: "The previous increase in natural gas prices slowed down economic growth by 2%-3%. The new increase is likely to have a comparable effect."
Lufthansa, Air France set to buy SSJ-100 planes
SuperJet International, a joint venture established by Italy's Alenia Aeronautica and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company of Russia to market Sukhoi SuperJet-100 medium-haul airliners in Europe, said it was negotiating SSJ-100 deliveries with two major regional flag carriers, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.
Analysts said both airlines could agree to buy the new plane only after it had been thoroughly tested by Aeroflot, the largest Russian airline.
SuperJet International spokesman Giacomo Persetto said the company is in talks with many airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France-KLM. Air France-KLM confirmed the talks were in progress, and a Lufthansa spokesman said the company was negotiating with different suppliers.
Air France wants to replace its Fokker 70s and Fokker 100s airliners on European routes, while KLM wants to do the same for Cityhoppers and BAE-146 medium-haul planes.
Russia started developing the SSJ-100 in 2001. The standard version seats 95 passengers, has a 3,100-km range and a catalog value of $23.4-$28.9 million. The SSJ-100 performed its maiden flight in May 2008.
The plane, which began to be certified last week, is to receive its flightworthiness certificates next year both in Russia and Europe.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft said it had signed 98 SSJ-100 delivery contracts, including 10 with ItAli Airlines S.p.A., an airline based in Pescara, Italy, five with Switzerland's AMO and 20 with an undisclosed European airline.
Kommersant said Iceland Air had ordered the latter 20 planes.
"Prior to certification, the company is trying to sign as many contracts as possible, including declarations of intent, in order to assess the program's economic aspects," Boris Rybak, director of Infomost, a Moscow-based aviation consultancy, said.
Oleg Panteleyev, chief analyst at aviation monitoring agency AviaPort, said the SSJ-100 matched Air France-KLM and Lufthansa requirements in terms of its price, passenger capacity and range, and that both airlines could be interested in buying it.
He said the SSJ-100's real specifications and performance would be clarified after Aeroflot started operating them.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which was to have supplied the first SSJ-100 to Aeroflot this November, has delayed shipment until late 2009.
Moscow street named among Europe's most expensive shopping locations
Stoleshnikov Lane in downtown Moscow has been ranked as the second most expensive retail streets in Europe yielding only to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, a rating by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLLS) said.
According to the report, during this year's second quarter retailers had to pay 7,000 euros per square meter to open a boutique on the street. On the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the cost for a square meter has reached 7,360 euros.
Among Europe's most expensive shopping locations, the rating lists New Bond Street in London, UK, with rents of 6,760 euros per square meter, Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland, with rents reaching 4,950 euros and Marienplatz in Munich, Germany, with rents amounting to 3,600 euros per square meter.
Tverskaya Street in Moscow and Oxford Street in London, UK, which remained Europe's most expensive shopping locations for five years, did not make this year's top ten. Tverskaya may see its rent rates decline by 20% by the end of this year due to the current crisis, while Stoleshnikov Lane's rents are expected to go down by only 5%-10%.
Stoleshnikov Lane is also ranked second in terms of rent growth dynamics, with its retail rents increasing by 14% from June 2007 to June 2008, the report by JLLS said. The greater growth in rents was observed on Khreshchatyk in Kiev, Ukraine, where they increased by 24.9% amounting to 2,700 euros per square meter. Yet, according to Alexander Lanetsky, executive director of Re&Solution consulting, the rents have already plummeted by 40% from the summer's $3,000-$3,600 to the current $1,800-$2,000.
Meanwhile, the current economic slowdown may change the situation at real property market in Moscow, where the rents in most expensive boutiques are expected to go down, said Vladimir Pantyushin, director for Jones Lang LaSalle, Russia and CIS. By the end of the year, the rents on Stoleshnikov Lane may be reduced by 5%-10%, echoed him Mikhail Gets, managing partner at Novoye Kachestvo.
However, lowering rents on Stoleshnikov Lane, a major thoroughfare with its ultra-luxury segment boutiques, will hardly appear as considerable. "The high-end market segment is least being affected by the crisis," Anna Lebsak-Kleimans, general director of Moscow's Fashion Consulting Group, emphasized saying the annual volumes of Russia's luxury clothing market are estimated at $3-$5 billion.
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