Voice of Russia to broadcast President Vladimir Putin's live press conference
The conference will be hosted by the Center of International Trade on the Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment, the first press meeting outside the Kremlin. Broadcast will start at 12.00 MSK.
Germany's E.ON sells its 3.5% stake in Gazprom
German energy company E.ON has sold it's 3.5 percent stake in Russian gas monopoly Gazprom but the sale "in no way" alters the relationship between Gazprom and E.ON, an executive said.
Israel’s Strauss Group buys popular Russian LeCafe brand
In a transaction totalling $43m the Israeli Strauss Group bought a leading Russian coffee brand and a majority stake in the Russian company's real estate. The deal includes outright ownership (100%) of LeCafe brand and a 51% stake in LeCafe Group's Russian real estate, including a logistics centre, offices and an area where Strauss Coffee plans to build a new, wholly-owned roast and grind (R&G) Coffee Plant.
UK Business Minister Vince Cable to visit Russia
By John Bonar
Vince Cable, British Minister for Business, will visit Moscow later this month for talks with Russian Economic Minister Alexei Kudrin, BSR has learnt. Cable will lead a British delegation to the annual Russia-UK Intergovernmental Steering Committee (ISC) meeting. Last year, after a seven year gap the ISC held a full scale meeting at intergovernmental level in London.
TNK-BP plans expansion at home and abroad
As it strives to become the largest integrated oil and gas company in Russia Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP plans to increase investment in exploration and production in Russia by 52 percent to $5 billion in 2013, Vice President Sergei Brezitsky said in a television interview on Monday.
"Five billion dollars is a serious sum," Brezitsky told Rossiya 24 TV channel.
Buy BP Shares now
Buy BP Shares now
About six weeks ago Some Russian bankers I met wanted to know if they should buy BP shares. I urged caution as there was no waying of knowing how bad the situation was going to get for the company.
Today my advice is buy, buy, buy. The shares at 39% discount from their pre-Deepwater Horizon disaster high, are a bargain. The well appears to be capped, the relief wells are on time and on target and the company in a few short weeks will announce the sale of assets raising up to $20bn.
After over two months of keeping BSR and Russia on the back burner while I established my base in the UK and took care of pressing medical issues I got back in the saddle this week with a resounding bang!
On Wednesday I attended the RuStyle launch of Russia & CIS Networking events at 43 South Molton Street. My invitation from Alina Blinova and Nadia Blinova came through Linked In, the business networking site. Progressing from Oxford Street to the club at 43 South Molton Street I found the Drum Risk Management team killing time on the pavement so I connected with Peter Hopkins and his colleagues from Russia, Sergey Vasilkov and Leonid Krivenko. While Peter was recently in Moscow his time is being increasingly consumed by Africa where his group has grown to six operating companies.
At the Club, spread over four stories of Imperially decorated rooms, we found a packed crowd of Russian-connected business people ranging from Turkish bankers to a lady representing a King’s Road antique furniture showroom. Victor Balagadde, director of Kommersant United Kingdom was there as was Kenneth Tan, the CEO of Birmingham-based Qontix software developers. While there were entrepreneurs there were also representatives of mid-sized British companies looking to Russia as a potential market for their goods and services. This is definitely an event to watch.
Elena Sproston, a lady with Russian connections who combines her work with Jewellery Direct Supply in Hatton Garden with being a friend of the Henry Jackson Society, invited me to yesterday evening’s panel discussion on Russia 2010 – an Appraisal, in the Boothroyd Room at Portcullis House, across Bridge Street from Big Ben and Parliament. Former British Ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, kicked off the proceedings with a spirited review of what’s gone right with Russia in the last 20 years rather undercutting the anti Putin diatribe from his fellow panelist, the Tregubova, the “Kremlin Digger” author and journalist Elena Tregubova who has exiled herself in London in fear for her life since in 2004 a bomb exploded outside the door to her Moscow apartment. No one was injured and officials claimed it to be "an act of hooliganism".
Charles Grant, the founder and director of the Centre for European Reform gave his view that Russian leadership was hostile towards integration and that a “lot of people with a lot of power were doing very well from the current situation and don’t want to modernise the Russian economy.” He told the audience that Germany is dominant in EU-Russian relations and he sees no common EU policy towards Russia emerging very soon.
Mr. Grant said he had found on recent visits to Russia a growing fear of China and worries about the vulnerability of the Russian Far East to a Chinese take over. He said that in China there was great contempt for Russia, with the Chinese feeling that Russia did not know how to run their economy.
Gisela Stuart MP, The Labour member for Birmingham Edgbaston who is on the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, was the final speaker and she recalled years of meetings between European parliamentarians where the praised the Germans for being accurate in their prognosis for Russia and the British, “We have always got Russia wrong!”
She said one the saddest manifestations of the loss of British interest in Russia was that contemporary Russian literature was no longer translated into English the way it was into German and the interest in Russian studies was falling away.
She voiced the opinion that the biggest threat to security was not a Cold War scenario based on conventional weapons but use of cyber-terror.
Speaking to Ms Stuart after the debate we agreed to meet, but she cautioned that she might be a tad engaged until after the impending general election.
Scraps from my youth
Last weekend I was in the North London suburb of Colindale. Almost at the end of the Edgeware branch of the Northern Line Colindale is a 90 minute ride by bus and underground from my home in Dulwich. I was there to use the ultra modern facilities in the 1957 brick structure of the British Library Newspaper section searching for scraps of journalism from my youth. In June1969 I had taken my embryonic journalism career to the North African shores of the Mediterranean and at the precocious age of 20 years assumed the mantle of Editor of the Tripoli Mirror, one of two English language newspapers in the Libyan capital, and carried with me letters of accreditation from the Observer’s venerable and academic Diplomatic Correspondent Robert Stephens.
I had traded these for a Libyan press card - a sort of mini-passport bearing the Sanussi Royal crest – by September 1 1969 when Muammer Gaddafi led his free officers movement in the bloodless coup d’etat that swept the ailing King Idris from power. John K. Cooley, the Christian Science Monitor Middle East
Correspondent wrote in his account of the Libyan Revolution “Desert Sandstorm” ( 1982, Holt Rinehart and Winston), “Virtually no western correspondents were in Libya on September 1”. Well I was there and the Observer had the only Tripoli by-line of any western newspaper for two weeks. When I visited Beirut regularly from Amman, Jordan, John Cooley and I became firm friends during the early 1970's.
This was my first foray into international reporting and I have to say, the young revolutionaries got me off to a flying start. In that first week I was given a pass allowing me freedom of movement during curfew yours by a young crinkle-aired captain at the Bab Al Aziziyah barracks – whom I later found out was Gaddafi’s right hand man, Abdul Salam Jalloud.
By the end of the month I had conducted the first interview by a western correspondent with revolutionary Libya’s first prime minister, the petroleum lawyer and jailed activist Dr. Mahmoud Suleiman al Maghrabi and early November I had the first interview by a western correspondent with a member of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council. Although he insisted on remaining anonymous, I soon found out the Captain was Abu Bakr Yunis Jaber, who today is a Major General and Minister of Defence. It was he who recently visited Russia and signed contracts woirth $1.8 million for military hardware.
Libya gave me my grounding in Middle East journalism from interviewing Yasser Arafat to crossing the Sahara to visit Toubou training camps of the Chad rebel movement led by Hissan Hibre.
My by-line in the Observer soon brought me similar freelance appointments from UPI, The Financial Times, Springer Foreign News Service, and the BBC. The connection I made with Yasser Arafat stood me in good stead when I moved onto my next posting in 1971 – Amman and a greater Middle East role for Springer and The Sunday Times, to whom I switched allegiance from The Observer.
After 40 years I no longer had the clippings of my first articles. But the British Library Newspapers section has a project to digitise British newspapers and on their computers I rapidly found the clippings and was able to printout photocopies of the pdf files of the articles for my scrapbook.
Corruption and crooks in the UK
What’s the difference?
Over the last two months, getting accustomed to being back in the UK after the last 15 years in Russia, I have of course found many things to be very different between the two countries. While I am delighted to find a network of Russian Produkti where I can buy tvorog, smetana, black bread and priyaniki or pick up a copy of Pulse London (a Russian language free newspaper like Pulse St. Petersburg) there are some aspects of British public life which make me smile because of their similarities to what the international media have habitually castigated Russia for over the years: crooked cops, corrupt politicians and vote rigging.
Adjusting to London
I am six weeks back in the UK capital and getting to grips with a major change in lifestyle. It’s a shock when you realize that systems and bureaucracy work, and with a smile. The overwhelming attitude by employees of national and local government departments is that their job is to help the public, with a smile even, and is reinforced by the fact that we are all now called ‘customers’! And they are so grateful if you have all the information they might need to hand and volunteer it!