Russia’s Medvedev fires space agency chief
The Vedomosti newspaper reported last month that Rostelecom had hired JPMorgan (JPM.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise on a possible joint venture with Tele2 Russia. Rostelecom’s chief executive Sergei Kalugin was quoted as saying last week that the company could put its mobile assets under the management of an unspecified partner to focus on cable TV in a strategy shift. Analysts speculated Tele2’s new shareholders might look to set up a joint venture with Rostelecom. The new investors declined to comment on Friday. Tele2 only has 2G, voice-focused licenses, while Rostelecom has both 3G and 4G permits which allow it to provide fast mobile internet services. “If Tele2 gets 3G licenses it will be able to compete with the Big Three in offering mobile internet … but it will of course take time,” said Lepetukhina, adding that launching in Moscow would be crucial for its success. CONNECTIONS Bank Rossiya, which is part-owned and chaired by Yuri Kovalchuk, an old acquaintance of President Vladimir Putin, said last week it was considering taking part in a deal for a stake in Tele2 Russia. A spokesman for the St Petersburg-based bank confirmed it planned to participate in the deal with VTB, saying the state competition regulator had given it permission. But it declined to provide any details or to discuss its plans for Tele2 Russia. Severstal declined all comment. However, a source familiar with the situation said that Mordashov’s connections rather than those of Severstal were participating in the deal.
United Russia MP Scorned for Public Debauch
Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin MOSCOW | Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:41pm BST MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the country’s space agency (Roskosmos) chief Vladimir Popovkin on Thursday, three months after the latest botched satellite launch. “I hope that a number of problems that we have unfortunately seen in Roskosmos’ activity will be overcome with your appointment,” Medvedev told Popovkin’s successor to the post, former deputy defence minister Oleg Ostapenko. Popovkin, a former senior defence ministry official, denied media reports earlier this year saying that had been hospitalised after a drunken brawl in the Roskosmos office. Russia lost roughly $200 million after a rocket carrying satellites crashed shortly after lift-off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan in July. Medvedev at the time said that Russia had lost 10 satellites in seven failed launches in less than a year. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees defence industry in the cabinet, wrote on Twitter that Popovkin would be given a senior post in Russia’s space industry. The practice to rotate officials regardless of their failures dates back to the Soviet political system dominated by the Communist Party, operating as a one-class club with internal disagreements rarely coming to light. Russia is increasing spending on space and plans to send a probe to the moon in 2015. But the pioneering Russian programme that put the first man in space in 1961 has been plagued in recent years by setbacks, including abortive satellite launches and a failed attempt to send a probe to a moon of Mars. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
According to the report, 110 Russian billionaires command 35 percent of the nation’s wealth, while worldwide, billionaires account for 1 to 2 percent of total household wealth. “At the time of transition there were hopes that Russia would convert to a high skilled, high income economy with strong social protection programs inherited from Soviet Union days,” the report said. “This is almost a parody of what happened in practice.” Much is wrong with Russia’s blend of crony capitalism and a powerful public sector. But Credit Suisse’s picture of wealth inequality is as much a data quality problem as a real issue. The bank’s Global Wealth Databook, which contains all the statistics underlying the much-quoted report, says the wealth estimates for Russia are based on household financial balance sheets provided by Unicredit Bank. Unicredit has a strong presence in Russia, and its numbers are based largely on official data from the Russian Statistics Committee and Central Bank. But those data cover only financial assets and debt. Non-financial assets, particularly real estate, make up a large portion of the wealth of most Russian households. Credit Suisse acknowledges in its report that during Russia’s transition from communism, “most of the housing stock was given away to residents,” but it grossly underestimates the value of that housing. According to the Global Wealth Databook, there are 767,000 Russians with assets of $100,000 or more. In fact, there are millions of such people in the Russian capital alone. In Moscow in 2012, there was 18.9 square meters of housing per resident, including children.
Just How Rich Are Russia’s Billionaires?
My aide was detained and fined 100 roubles ($3 USD) in connection with appearing in a public place in a state of intoxication. There are no allegations against me. I left the plane because of my aide. Aeroflot disagreed, issuing a statement [ru] claiming that Isaev had threatened the crew: , – . , . Aleksandr Poglazov came on board together with passenger Andrei Isaev, who demanded that we transfer Poglazov to business class and threatened the crew members with dismissal and personal problems. As a result, the passenger Poglazov was turned over to the police, and Andrei Isaev voluntarily left the flight. Opposition bloggers were eager to jump on what they saw as further evidence that United Russia members consider themselves above the law and rules of common decency. Popular blogger Oleg Kozyrev, referencing the 30 members of a Greenpeace vessel currently being held in Murmansk on charges of piracy, tweeted: . (@IlyaYashin) October 9, 2013 In June United Russia introduced a law in Parliament on criminal liability for drunken debauch on planes: http://t.co/A90ZBpimFN This will now be Isaev’s law. Sergei Markov , a prominent pro-Kremlin political commentator, who knows Isaev personally, used his facebook page [ru] to defend the embattled deputy. Markov admitted he would likely take some flack for defending Isaev, but listed four reasons he doubted the politician had done anything wrong: Isaev has never been seen very drunk in public, Isaev is an educated and tolerant man, Isaev is an optimistic and calm person, and maybe he was simply defending his aide. Poglazov has since resigned as Isaev’s aide of his own volition. Isaev tendered hisresignation [ru] from the position of Deputy Secretary to the General Council of United Russia, apologized, and stated that he was responsible for his aide. At the same time he has ruled out resigning from his seat or the party. Though United Russia functionaries have described this response as adequate, it seems unlikely to assuage an electorate tired of seeing their politicians act as if they are above the law. While Isaev could likely have gotten away with threatening to sack the stewardess ten years ago, such behavior now alienates not only passengers on a flight, but any Russian with a computer.