Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych have met for the first time this year "to synchronize their watches" and discuss the prospects of bilateral relations, with energy and customs union issues topping the agenda.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
The Dow Jones industrial average has surged to a new all-time high as investors shrugged off the current partisan wrangling in Washington over the US budget and took the blue-chip index to its highest level since October 2007.
Russian steelmaker Severstal has folded its new projects in India and Trinidad and Tobago having failed to strike favorable deals with local authorities. Severstal's 2012 IFRS net profit fell 62.6% year-on-year to $762 million while the aggregate cost of the projects was estimated at $3 billion. (Kommersant)
Forbes has put 110 Russians on the 2013 Billionaires List – 14 more than last year.
Stalin’s name remains capable of triggering vicious debate in Russia – and is occasionally invoked by politicians, including some in the Kremlin, who simply lack another template to model relations between government and society. Russia marked the 60th anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s death.
Head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, has proposed to remove the Soviet-era necropolis and the mummified body of Vladimir Lenin from Red Square, making Lenin’s mausoleum a museum.
Russia’s human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has joined a group of defense lawyers in appeal to the Moscow City Court to rescind the prison sentence for Pussy Riot members.
Russian police have detained three men, including a star dancer, as suspects in the January acid attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin.
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
Russian investigators are planning to bring fresh criminal charges against UK-based businessman William Browder, the ex-boss of a Russian lawyer whose 2009 death in a Moscow jail triggered a furious diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington. The new charges against Browder are linked to a scheme in which he allegedly used Russian front companies controlled by other entities, including foreign ones, to “illegally purchase” Gazprom shares.
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized the Russian police for inefficient efforts to fight online piracy in the country. According to the latest IIPA report, police in Russia carried only one massive raid against online rerates in 2012 compared to 22 raids in 2011. (Kommersant)
Russia's Liberal Democrat Party is suggesting that pregnant women and women with many children who are serving sentences for "minor" crimes be released from jail in a mass amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.
Russia’s Interior Troops will be manned only with professional soldiers. According to amendments to several laws, candidates for contact service will be chosen by unit commanders rather than through regular conscription offices.
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News that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would resign in order to run for the mayoral election in September came as quite a shock. Sobyanin’s political potential is fairly dubious, not to mention his approval ratings. He has not finished many of the projects he initiated and the electoral effect from these projects is expected to come a bit later than September 2013. Sobyanin’s opponents were not entirely unprepared for this blitzkrieg.