Onishchenko: he say no

Yet another conflict is brewing between Russia and one of its post-Soviet neighbours.

On Monday Russia’s consumer protection agency announced it had halted dairy imports from Lithuania, citing excessive quantities of yeast and mould in certain Lithuanian dairy products after weeks of holding up Lithuanian transport trucks for longer than normal periods at border control. Read more

Say goodbye to the Anzhi dream team. Two years after Suleiman Kerimov (pictured) splashed out millions of dollars – and luxury cars – luring stars like Samuel Eto’o and Roberto Carlos to his native Dagestani football club, the club’s oligarch backer is tightening the purse strings.

Anzhi’s annual budget will be reduced from $180m to $50-70m, while Eto’o and other big-name players will be sold off in an effort to cut costs and improve the club’s competitive standing. Read more

A big announcement from Russia’s economy ministry today: Russia may privatise an additional 19 per cent of state-owned Rosneft this year, in addition to the 5.7 per cent stake it sold to BP in March as part of the TNK-BP deal.

The key word in this, of course, is ‘may’. The Russian government has changed course on privatisation more than a few times already, and it is likely to encounter a fair amount of opposition on this particular move. Read more

It’s official. The Duma has confirmed Vladimir Putin’s pick, Elvira Nabiullina, as Russia’s next central banker with a vote of 360 in support, 20 against and one abstaining.

Nabiullina will be the first female central banker for a G8 country. But for investors the more important question is how dovish she will be when it comes to interest rates and economic growth. Read more

Over the past few months, a lot of questions have been raised about the share of Russian money flowing through Cyprus, not always legally, and what effect this would have on an EU bailout for the island.

Now as EU leaders prepare to meet and discuss the bailout this Friday, Moody’s raises two equally important questions: How at risk are Russian banks and companies to problems in the Cypriot banking sector? And how likely are Russian depositors and creditors to get their money back after an EU-managed bailout? Read more

Should independent Russian gas producers be allowed to sell their gas abroad? Or should state-owned Gazprom retain its monopoly status?

These are the questions Vladimir Putin’s presidential energy commission met to discuss on Wednesday – and will be discussing, it appears, for some time. Read more

A new year, a new group of Russian companies that are slated for privatisation.

One of the first up looks to be Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port, the country’s biggest port operator. Yet so far things haven’t exactly gone as advertised. And the plot is only getting murkier. Read more

For the Russian retail sector, 2012 was the tale of two rival grocers. And there is one that clearly prevailed.

Over the past 12 months, Magnit has cemented its position as one of investors’ favourite Russian blue chip thanks to high single-digit earnings margins – leaving little love for competitor X5. Read more

Russian markets re-opened on Tuesday after the country’s nine-day New Year’s hibernation holiday, and got 2013 off to a good start.

Boosted by an improvement in global sentiment, the Micex index rose 2.7 per cent in its its biggest one-day gain since mid-September. The rouble appreciated 0.3 per cent against the dollar-euro basket. Read more

Among the groups to benefit from the eurozone crisis, you can now add one more name to to the list: Russian tourists.

A demographic famous for favouring packaged trips to Turkey and Egypt, Russians have been able to use the downturn in advantage, and are choosing the hardest-hit members of the eurozone as their new holiday destinations. Read more

Megafon, the Russian mobile operator hoping to list in London, has come up with strong earnings for the third quarter. Net profit jumped 19.6 per cent to Rb14.9bn, while revenue rose 12.3 per cent year-on-year to Rb71.2bn.

The company announced in October that it would hold off its planned IPO until after third quarter results. Yet at this point the chance of a 2012 IPO going ahead seems to have little to do with today’s results, and everything to do with the UK regulator. Read more

One of the candidates has called Russia the US’s “number one geopolitical foe”. The other has pushed for a “reset” and promised “more flexibility” on missile defence if he is granted a second term.

Yet when it comes down to it, a Romney presidency and an Obama presidency may not look radically different – at least where Russia is concerned. Read more

Another week, another iteration to Russia’s constantly-evolving privatisation programme.

At a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Russia’s economy minister announced that the government would now aim to raise Rb260bn ($8bn) to Rb270bn next year with the sale of up to 5 per cent of Russian Railways, 25.5 per cent of lender VTB and 7 per cent of diamond miner Alrosa. Read more

More bad news for Megafon. Two days after the company’s Moscow-London IPO was put on the backburner, the company may now face problems with its planned acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer.

Russia’s anti-monopoly service said on Wednesday it could need up to two more months to review Megafon’s plans to buy retailer Euroset. It had originally been expected to rule on the deal last week. Read more

Russia is finally getting tough on tobacco with a new law that will ban smoking in public places by January 1, 2015 and increase taxes on cigarettes by as much as eight times over the same period.

In a video blog released on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government would go ahead with the measures despite complaints from foreign tobacco producers, who managed to carve out a niche in Russia at a time when European and US sales were plummeting. Read more

Since Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev swapped jobs in May, some of the heat has gone out the power struggles between their allies. But the tensions between the warring factions have not gone away.

Though Arkady Dvorkovich has always been placed on the side of  (ex-president and current prime minister) Medvedev, in an interview published on Thursday he sought to downplay the rift, while also stressing that he did not want the state to take a bigger role in the Russian economy (a line favoured by some of Putin’s allies). Read more

With Russian news often dominated by the woes of foreign investors like BP and Telenor, it is always nice to hear a positive story about the country’s investment climate. The announcement that Denmark’s AP Møller-Maersk is finally entering the Russian market fits the bill. Read more

One of the most expensive court case in legal history came to a close on Friday, after a London judge rejected Boris Berezovsky’s $6.5bn claims against fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

While the case has captivated the UK and British tabloids, back home in Russia interest in the trial has been decidedly more subdued. Read more

For global automakers, the Russian car industry appears to be a bright spot - a very, very bright spot - against a dismal European auto market.

At the Moscow auto show, which kicked off on the outskirts of the Russian capital on Wednesday, brands like General Motors, Volkswagen and BMW were falling over themselves to emphasise the market’s importance to their brands, lay out expansion plans and praise the Russian car buyer. Read more

Pity MTS. On the eve of the Russian telecom group’s triumphant return to Turkmenistan – and on the day it reported an earnings margin of over 40 per cent – the company was forced to announce a $1.1bn write-off of its Uzbek telecoms business.

The write-off comes amid a fight between MTS and the Uzbek regulator, which has accused the telecoms group of owing the state over $900m in back tax payments. Read more