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    Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, July 31

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    Putin on Naval Armaments: We Have the Money, Must Use It Wisely \ British Actor Stephen Fry Tweets in Support of Pussy Riot \ Olympic Developers Threaten to Go to the Wall

    Moskovsky Komsomolets

    Putin on Naval Armaments: We Have the Money, Must Use It Wisely

    President Vladimir Putin has held the fourth ministerial meeting on the fulfillment of the state armaments program for the Russian Navy in Severodvinsk. He outlined the key development spheres and heard the ministers’ reports.

    The president said there are several development objectives. Russia has a sufficient naval potential, which will further grow by 2020 when fourth-generation ballistic missile submarines of the Borei-A class are to be launched, he said. Putin also spoke about development prospects.

    “The first task is to develop the naval component of our strategic nuclear forces. Secondly, we must create multirole general-purpose naval groups to repel threats from the sea, ensure the safety of transportation and fight piracy,” the president said.

    He said that the importance of general-purpose naval forces to Russia is evident from the approved allocations for their development, about 4.44 trillion rubles ($138 billion), or 23.4 percent of the state armaments program.

    The bulk of these funds will be used to buy new equipment, so that the share of modern weapons and equipment is increased to 30 percent by 2016 and to 70 percent by 2020. By that time, 51 modern surface warships and 16 multirole submarines are to be delivered to the navy, Vladimir Putin said.

    He pointed out that 49 of the surface ships and all of the submarines would be built in Russia. All of these contracts will be assigned to Russian companies. Putin added that requirements to quality and deadlines will be very strict.

    He also spoke about problems with the fulfillment of the state defense order. In the past, the Defense Ministry and producers quarreled over prices, deadlines and delivery volumes. As a result, three orders were not filled. “The situation is improving,” Putin said. “However, only the baseline contracts have been signed so far.” These include contracts for the repair and modernization of equipment, transition to building new-generation warships, and modernization of shipyards and other defense companies.

    It must be decided if the targeted federal program for the development of the defense industry and civilian marine equipment should be adjusted.

    We have the funds and have approved their allocation. But there is no money to spare, so we must use it wisely, President Putin said.

    Izvestia

    British Actor Stephen Fry Tweets in Support of Pussy Riot

    Comedian urges “to do everything” to help the girls

    In his microblog, British actor Stephen Fry tweeted in support of the Pussy Riot feminist Russian punk-rock group charged with hooliganism for staging a “punk prayer” performance at the Altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

    “I urge you to do everything to help the girls,” the actor wrote on his Twitter page.

    He also supplied a link to The Independent article describing the trial.

    Earlier, Faith No More, Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting expressed their support for Pussy Riot. A number of Russian celebrities and cultural figures, including Fyodor Bondarchuk, Yevgeny Mironov, Boris Akunin, Chulpan Khamatova, Boris Grebenshchikov, Andrei Makarevich and Gleb Samoilov, signed a petition to free the young women.

    RBC Daily

    Olympic Developers Threaten to Go to the Wall

    The government must come to a speedy decision on reimbursing investors’ unscheduled expenses in the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi, Interros CEO Vladimir Potanin told RBC Daily on Monday. If the state fails to meet the investors halfway, some of the projects would simply fold, the oligarch said. The outside deadline for the decision, in his view, is the end of the year.

    Potanin told the paper that he is currently involved in negotiations with the Finance Ministry on refunding construction costs for the infrastructure of the Roza Khutor project. The talks concern additional facilities being built at the request of the Olympic Committee and the requirements advanced by the Federal Bodyguard Service. The security services are also insisting on the construction of a five-meter fence around the Roza Khutor ski resort, the Olympic village and the freestyle park.

    Previously, the reimbursement negotiations were conducted with former Deputy Finance Minister Alexander Novak. However, after his appointment to a different post, the company has had to start the talks from scratch. At the same time, the Interros CEO is sure that the outside date for a compensation decision is the end of 2012. “I am afraid we may reach the point of no return unless this is made before the end of the year,” he told RBC Daily on Monday in London.

    Earlier, Interros had calculated that additional costs involved in the construction of Olympic facilities totaled 16 billion rubles. The authorities agreed that the claim for eight billion rubles was justified, and said they were ready to discuss another four billion, but refused to refund the remaining four billion.

    “It has been decided that the Finance Ministry will reimburse Vnesheconombank (VEB) for possible losses to make sure it does not make reservations,” Potanin explained to RBC Daily. “The investors initially proposed to the government that it should subsidize investors’ interest rates. If that is done, many projects could move from loss-making to no-loss territory. But a simpler scheme has prevailed – the transfer of funds from state to state (or to VEB).”

    Interros is proposing a scheme under which the Finance Ministry could approve the subsidizing of the interest rates on loans issued by VEB and also the introduction of a special economic zone offering a grace period of three to five years for Olympic developers. In that case, Potanin reckons Roza Khutor’s recoupment period will be 2022-2024. The businessman stressed that he is not going to propose that the government buy out Roza Khutor. At the same time, he is sure that the projects can be re-commercialized only through subsidies.

    In private interviews, Olympic investors told RBC Daily they did not believe in the positive outcome of talks with the Finance Ministry. Some of them hinted they would be asking for a meeting with President Putin, whom they intend to win over to the reimbursement idea.


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