Notes

In Milan at the Asia-Europe ministerial meeting (ASEM) over the weekend, Russia’s Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, made a series of remarks indicating where Russia’s economic policy is heading.

Siluanov also indicated that the government would be giving responsibility for state-run banks to Russia’s Central Bank.  However, he signalled that they would be willing to support Rosneft and Novatek with money from Russia’s National Wealth Fund, but put a cap on the amount on offer:

“In general we are ready to consider these proposals (for financial support) under the general terms within the limits of 60 percent of NWF funds which are envisaged for investments.”

And Siluanov continued to insist that the West is harming itself more than Russia by imposing sanctions.  He also claimed that Russia’s 2015 budget deficit was expected to be 0.5% of GDP.

Siluanov told journalists the government would maintain its 2015 borrowing program and would not dip into the rainy-day fund unless the price of oil dropped sharply. 

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuavalov, implied in remarks on Russian television that the country’s tax code would be changed, but said that “authorities have decided not to raise personal income tax or value-added tax (VAT)…”  Recall that the personal income tax sits at 13%.  He did, however, note that the discussion was still ongoing, and that a sales tax of 3-5% would most likely be imposed.

Long piece by John Helmer on Russia’s Minister for Open Government Abyzov’s “offshore” dealings:

Former Putin advisor, Andrei Illarianov, was part of a panel at the Riga conference this past weekend, where he argued that the West may not have a choice in fighting Russia.

Video here:

Summary of his remarks by Paul Goble here:

On Ukraine, @MaidanOnline is translating a lot of articles about the conflict into English. Below is one piece that is worth reading:

Producer at opposition-minded tv channel @tvrain was attacked in Moscow:

A prominent lawyer was gunned down in Moscow:

Russia’s held its regional elections on Sunday, voter turnout was low, and Ingushetia did not even bother holding elections:

Meanwhile, Nina Khrushcheva tweeted:

Amusing art of the day:

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