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News summary for January 17

January 18, 2013, 9:19 UTC+3

All the headlines from the day's news

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MOSCOW — The Russian government will allocate more than 1.5 billion roubles to buy equipment for the emergencies ministry in 2013, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday at cabinet meeting.

“In 2013, it is planned to buy 127 rescue vehicles to a sum of more than 1.5 billion roubles,” he said. According to the prime minister, the program of upgrading the ministry’s equipment and hardware has been implemented actively since 2010. “New planes, fire fighting vehicles, mobile communications equipment have been purchased. A considerable sum of 16 billion roubles has been spent on these purposes,” he said.

The prime minister urged to take effort to upgrade emergency alarm systems. “It is absolutely obvious and the last year’s accidents, both of the anthropogenic and natural character, demonstrated this clearly,” he said. “It is vital to equip rescue teams with the most state-of-the-art machinery and equipment.”


MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called to prepare Russia’s medical and educational infrastructure for a population explosion.

“It is absolutely fair, it is good that some demographic forecasts prove untrue. We have been taking colossal efforts, spending big money to achieve this, and our efforts are bringing about positive results. It is necessary to prepare the infrastructure to a situation when we finally manage to stabilize the number of the population and when we have more births,” Medvedev said. In his words, it must be taken into account while drafting new projects. He urged the ministries of finance and of education, as well as other executive authorities concerned to pay due attention to it.


MOSCOW — Russia is seeking to enter the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) within the country’s economic policy, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria here on Thursday.

“After our country entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), this goal (the accession in the OECD) is an important priority for us, which we consider when taking our domestic decisions and amending our legislation,” Medvedev stated.


NOVO-OGARYOVO — Bank VTB will double its portfolio of state-defence-order-related loans in 2013, VTB chairman Andrei Kostin said on Thursday at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Last year, we increased the volume of credit resources to defence-relaed enterprises by 82 billion roubles, or 37 percent. As of today, the sum total exceeds 303 billion roubles,” he said.

The bulk of the money is spent to extend loans under the state defence order. “In 2011 and 2012, the VTB group extended some 155-billion-rouble worth of loans under the state defence order program. If the state defence order parameters this year are likewise dynamic, and we are sure they will, this sum will be doubled in 2013,” Kostin said.


MOSCOW — The import taxes on personal computers priced under 3,000 US dollars will go up from 0 percent to 10 percent as of January 26, the Eurasian Economic Commission has said.

“This decision should promote the development of PC manufacturing in the Customs Union member-countries. The measure will apply mostly to office PCs, while the rates of customs duties on servers will remain unchanged,” EEC Trade Minister Andrei Slepnyov said on Thursday.


MOSCOW — Russia and Belarus agreed to step up the creation of a joint machine-building corporation, ROSBELAVTO, on the basis of KAMAZ and MAZ, the Ministry of Industry and Trade told Itar-Tass.

The ministry commented on the results of Wednesday’s meeting between Russian Minister Denis Manturov and his Belarusian counterpart Dmitry Katerinich.

During the meeting, the parties also agreed on a possibility to create a common strategy on the development of machine tool in Russia and Belarus and discussed measures to jointly produce agricultural engineering.


MOSCOW — Russia’s financial industry has the potential to become one of the most competitive ones, Sberbank CEO German Gref told the 2013 Gaidar Forum titled Russia and the World: Challenges to Integration, underway at the Russian presidential academy of the economy and civil service.

Gref said that “the top ten banks controlled about 45 percent of the Russian market. In the United States the rate is about 70 percent, which indicates that despite the existence of major players the room for competition remains rather vast.”


MOSCOW — Kazakhstan may become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as early as in 2013, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told journalists here on Thursday on the sidelines of the Gaidar Forum-2013 which is taking place at the Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Service under the President of the Russian Federation.

"Kazakhstan is currently in a rather advanced stage of talks on accession to the WTO, and I'd express a supposition that even this year one can expect Kazakhstan's joining the WTO," Lamy said.


MOSCOW — Russian citizens are recommended to address the country’s communication and media watchdog Roscomnadzor if they hear or see curse words in the media, State Duma deputy speaker Sergei Zheleznyak told Itar-Tass explaining his initiative that imposes fines for using profane expressions in the media.

“Roscomnadzor is a media regulator, therefore citizens should address regional offices of this service,” he said. “Moreover, Roscomnadzor itself monitors the media products and if it finds illegal materials, it takes decisions to stop their distribution and punish those responsible,” he added.


KRASNOYARSK — A perinatal center, worth more than 3,500 million roubles, is to be built in Abakan, the capital of the Republic o Khakassia. A sum of 1,500 million roubles will be assiged for this purpose from the Federal budget. A decision to this effect was taken on January 14 during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Viktor Zimin, the Head of Khakassia, an ofifcial in the Khakass government press service told Itar-Tass.

The construction of the perinatal center will make it possible to arrange for a three-tier system in line with most up-to-date requirements for the rendering of full scope of medical aid to expectant mothers.


MOSCOW — Gazprom will pay 62 billion rubles to European partners as part of its price adjustment for the first nine months of 2012, Mikhail Rosseyev, the head of the consolidated accounts department, told investors during a telephone conference on Thursday.

According to Itar-Tass previous reports, Gazprom has been trying to achieve rapprochement of stances with Russian gas buyers in Europe and pursuing a policy of adjusting delivery prices in recent years.


MOSCOW — Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves tumbled by 11 billion dollars (or by 2 percent) from 537.4 billion dollars to 526.4 billion dollars as of January 4–11, the External and Public Relations Department of the Central Bank said on Thursday.


MOSCOW — The United Russia Party launched the federal project titled “Each child is important for Russia”, Secretary of the United Russia General Council and State Duma Vice-Speaker Sergei Neverov told reporters after a telecom conference with the participation of the secretaries of the regional branches of the party and the chairpersons of the regional Legislative Assemblies on Thursday.


 BELGRADE — Russia’s gas giant Gazprom and Croatia’s gas pipeline operator Plinacro have signed in Zagreb an action plan to implement the South Stream gas pipeline project.

They plan to build a 100 kilometer section worth of 60 million euros that will run to Croatia.

Gazprom and Plinacro will create South Stream Croatia joint venture, where they will own equal stakes.

In 2013-2015 the joint venture will build a gas pipeline from a small town of Sotin in eastern Croatia to the border with Serbia. Its annual throughput capacity will reach 2.7 billion cubic meters.


KIEV — Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has accused Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov’s government of sabotage practices and said that cabinet reshuffles might follow.


KIEV — Ukraine cut Russian gas imports by 27.46 % in 2012 to 32.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2011, the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Mining Industry reported on Thursday, referring to preliminary figures.

According to the endorsed gas balance, Ukraine’s overall 2012 gas imports is supposed to reach about 35 billion cubic meters, which is 21.9% less than the actual import values in 2011.


KIEV — President Viktor Yanukovich has submitted a draft law to the parliament to ratify the Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the Ukrainian parliament’s secretariat reported on Wednesday, January 16.

The document envisages changing several rules in respect of adopting Ukrainian children by foreigners. The priority right will be given to citizens of the member-countries of the Convention and to the states, with which corresponding agreements were signed earlier, as well as to relatives of children.


KIEV — The pension reform in Ukraine proves its inefficiency because the pension scheme has a deficit, Minister of Social Policy Nataliya Korolevskaya said on Wednesday, January 16.

“The pension reform is ineffective. The increase of pension age to 60 years for women led nowhere,” the minister noted.

She recalled that the fund’s deficit reached about 3.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. In 2013 this figure is planning to amount to 2.7 billion dollars.


DUSHANBE — Tajikistan links the ratification of the agreement on the 201st Russian military base to other arrangements and contracts, namely those on the delivery of light petroleum products and on labour migrants, Tajik Foreign Minister Khamrokhon Zarifi said, while interviewed by reporters after talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon. Lavrov arrived in Tajikistan on a two-day working visit on Wednesday evening.


DUSHANBE — Tajikistan has again blocked access to social network Facebook, a spokesman for the Central Asian republic’s largest Internet provider Telecom Technology told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

He said the relevant instructions were received from the state-run communication service without explanation of reasons.


DUSHANBE — Moscow and Dushanbe may sign an agreement on duty-free supplies of light petroleum products to Tajikistan in the first quarter of 2013, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here on Thursday after talks with his Tajik colleague Khamrokhon Zarifi.


DUSHANBE — Moscow and Dushanbe are completing the procedures for the agreement on the Russian military base in Tajikistan to come into force, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here on Thursday after the meeting with his Tajik counterpart Khomrakhon Zavisi.


DUSHANBE — Russia and Tajikistan have agreed to continue cooperation in neutralizing threats emanating from Afghanistan and in strengthening security on the Tajik-Afghan border, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the talks with his Tajik counterpart Khamrokhon Zarifi on Thursday.

The talks focused on all aspects of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Tajikistan, he said.


TBILISI — A dramatized rally in the town of Zugdidi, western Georgia, gathered up to 2,000 participants on Thursday to demand the resignation of President Mikhail Saakashvili.

The participants staged "a symbolic political funeral of the president" carrying an empty coffin across the central square. "This is our way of expressing a protest. Saakashvili did so many bad things for Georgia that we decided to symbolically bury him," protesters said.


TBILISI — Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili told a news conference Thursday night he does not have plans for dissolving either the government or the national parliament.

Saakashvili indicated that he had the right to prevent the Georgian coalition from filling the governmental positions following the October 1, 2012, parliamentary election or to bar the coalition members from getting the posts of Interior, Justice and Defense Ministers, as well as the post of the Chief Prosecutor.




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