MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti)
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday. Though Russian-German ties are developing normally, serious differences still remain.
(Vedomosti, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia)
Tensions escalate in the Gaza Strip, leaving almost no chance for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli armed forces were prepared to “expand” the operation in Gaza. A ground operation may begin this week.
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia)
Leading positions in Russia's newly emerged political parties are given to high profile individuals. Experts think the move benefits both parties and politicians: parties want to attract well-known public figures, while politicians won't have to make huge donations to run in polls.
Under Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s plan to reshuffle the United Russia party's leadership, regional offices are to elect their heads by December 15. New leaders have been elected in seven out of 23 regional offices that have already held polls. Experts rate this percentage as very high, but think that the renewal of the party’s regional leadership was artificial.
The Netherlands-based International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia on Friday freed Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, who had been sentenced to 24 and 18 years, respectively, for killing and expelling Serbs from Croatia in 1995. The verdict triggered an angry response from Moscow and Belgrade and brough the tribunal’s impartiality into question.
The State Duma approved the draft 2013 budget in the second reading.
Russia and its partners in the BRICS group of emerging economies agreed to support each other during the crisis. The partners – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will create a mutual support mechanism for economic crises, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.
OIL & GAS
Debates about Russia’s 2013 oil supplies to Belarus intensified ahead of the Union State’s council of ministers.
VEHICLES & ENGINEERING
Russia’s Kamaz truck maker plans to equip some of its trucks with Daimler cabins and Mercedes-Benz engines.
TELECOMS & IT
Megafon, one of Russia’s three largest mobile operators, has prepared a major infrastructure project named DREAM to build two fiber-optic lines linking Europe and Asia with the aim of becoming an important player on the Internet traffic market.
From January 1, Russia will tighten its alcohol excise policies, increasing the minimum retail price for a 0.5-liter bottle of vodka by record 36 percent, to 170 rubles (over $5).
In a bid to counter drug-trafficking groups, Russia’s state drug control agency will buy tapping equipment to automatically monitor, distinguish and record phone conversations in languages including Tajik, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz.
According to the Russian emergencies ministry’s preliminary fire statistics for 2012, over 116,000 fires in Russia inflicted direct financial losses of more than 10.5 billion rubles.
In another major scandal involving Russian football fans, a Dynamo Moscow match with Zenit St. Petersburg was stopped when a smoke bomb landed near Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin. The goalkeeper was hospitalized with an eye injury. Moscow police said it would plant undercover agents in fan communities in a bid to prevent further incidents.
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The solution to the Ukrainian problem will directly depend on how the military operations unfold in Donbass. If the militia fighters take over the strategic initiative, win back Donbass and extend the war to the Zaporozhye and the Kharkov regions, then Kiev will be more amenable to a compromise