Lithuania wary of Russian meddling in busy election season

Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw February 5, 2019

As European, local, parliamentary, and presidential elections are all due in 2019 and 2020, EU and Nato member Lithuania will be the focus of Russia’s disruptive activity, the Baltic state’s security agency VSD and the ministry of defence warn.

COMMENT: Ukraine’s long-awaited religious independence is a matter of national security

Nicholas Kaufmann in Brussels February 5, 2019

Just how Russia will react to losing a significant source of soft power remains unclear, but Moscow has raised eyebrows with a pledge to “protect the interests of the faithful” in Ukraine.

More controversy as Rosstat upgrades Russian GDP growth to a six-year high

Ben Aris in Berlin February 4, 2019

​Further questions were raised over the veracity of the Russian State Statistical Service's results after it upgraded its estimates of growth in the construction sector leading to a revision of 2018 GDP growth from 1.6% to 2.3%.

INTERVIEW: Vezet is Russia's second largest taxi service battling it out in a cutthroat market

Ben Aris in Berlin February 4, 2019

Russia’s taxi business has become ultra-competitive. Already running for several years, the incumbent Yandex.Taxi subsidies its drivers and won’t go into profit until maybe this year. It has already forced Uber into a merger and may IPO in the next t

Russia’s manufacturing PMI treads water in January, but producers are optimistic

bne IntelliNews February 1, 2019

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Russia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index showed industry at 50.9 in January, only just above the 50 no-change mark.

Russia’s central bank bought a record amount of gold in 2018

bne IntelliNews January 31, 2019

As Russia continues to try to reduce its dependence on the dollar the Central Bank of Russia increased gold purchases for the fourth year in a row.

KYIV BLOG: Dropping export quotas on Ukrainian goods to Europe would fix its worst problems

Ben Aris in Berlin January 31, 2019

It’s not even the end of January and Ukraine has already used up its entire year’s quota for duty free exports to Europe of corn, honey, grapes and apple juice. Quotas on other products are running out fast. The EU should drop the restrictions.

Russia’s Yandex smartphone flops

Ben Aris in Berlin January 31, 2019

Russian internet powerhouse Yandex has suffered a rare defeat after its attempt to break into the smartphone business fell flat on its face. Launched in December to much fanfare, the Yandex.Phone had sold less than 500 units as of January 20.

High drama as Russia’s Investigative Committee arrests a senator on murder charges on the Federation Council floor

bne IntelliNews January 30, 2019

Officers swooped on Senator Rauf Arashukov, who had his immunity lifted and was arrested on two counts of murder.

HEATMAP: Russia and Ukraine battle it out for title of most corrupt country in Europe

Ben Aris in Berlin January 30, 2019

Russia recaptured the dubious title of “most corrupt country in Eastern Europe” after it slipped three places in this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index, falling to 138th place out of 180 countries.

Fed up with SOEs, the Russian government proposes taking direct control over their investment programmes

Ben Aris in Berlin January 29, 2019

The government proposed forcing all the state-owned enterprises to submit investment programmes for approval, and to tighten the reigns of control.

Russia’s Gazprom lucks out as Germany rejects revisions to the EU’s energy directive

Ben Aris in Berlin January 29, 2019

The European Commission had suggested amending EU gas legislation to extend the requirements of the Third Energy Package to all gas pipelines entering the EU.

Russia seeks to attract Asian investors to support $900mn later-stage tech fund

EWDN in Moscow January 29, 2019

RVC, the state fund-of-funds dedicated to innovation, and Da Vinci Capital, a major EBRD-backed Russian private equity firm, announced Monday the launch of a RUB6bn ruble ($900mn) tech fund, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).

Mail.Ru Group sells SK Gaming to Mercedes-Benz,” the first car maker to invest in an eSports team”

EWDN in Moscow January 29, 2019

ESforce, a major eSports company acquired in early 2018 by Group, has sold SK Gaming, one of its key assets, to Daimler and football club FC Köln (FC Cologne)

COMMENT: the removal of sanctions on Derirpaska’s companies left the Russian OFZ bond market cold

Rosbank in Moscow January 29, 2019

The removal of three Russian companies – Rusal, En+ and EuroSibEnergo – from the SDN sanctions list is a big deal, but neither the ruble nor the OFZ government treasury bonds rallied

COMMENT: Russia’s drive to sanction proof the economy depresses economic activity

head of Russia research at ING in Amsterdamn January 29, 2019

Both consumer and producer activity weakened in December 2018, confirming our expectations of declining support of local demand to GDP growth at least at the beginning of 2019. This year will be a test to Russia's conservative approach

Russian M&A flat y/y in 2018 due to sanctions pressure

bne IntelliNews January 29, 2019

Russia had to cope with four rounds of new US sanctions in 2018 as well as unstable oil prices and a general miasma that has fallen over the population as real incomes failed to rise for the fifth year in a row, which hurt dealmaking.

Sanctions withdrawn from Russian oligarch Deripaska’s companies, VTB increases stake in EN+

bne IntelliNews January 28, 2019

The US Treasury Department formally lifted the April 6 round of sanctions on the companies belonging to Russian oligarch and Kremlin insider Oleg Deripaska, but left those that target the businessmen personally in place.

Russian GV Gold doubles production in two years

bne IntelliNews January 28, 2019

Russian junior gold mine GV gold announced a record production of 304.4koz in 2018, beating management forecasts. A relatively young miner, the company has more than doubled its production in the last two years.