Norilsk

By Septimus Knox, Alaco

Remote, long-forgotten industrial towns rarely make the front pages in Russia, never mind internationally. But for a few days in September Norilsk, home to the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, hit the headlines, although for all the wrong reasons.

A chemical spill turned the Daldykan River red, and photographs of the contamination went viral. Norilsk and other so-called monotowns are located in some of the most inhospitable parts of the country. Centred on a single factory, plant or mill, they fuelled Soviet-era industrialisation.

They remain key to Russia’s economy, yet many are now in terminal decline. Read more

Norilsk Nickel gained 1.4 per cent in Moscow on Tuesday on a settlement in the long-running management dispute between billionaire shareholders Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska.

Roman Abramovich’s arrival as a peacemaker might have merited a warmer welcome given the bile surrounding Norilsk. But it was a bad day for the Russian market – and, in any case, the deal’s details suggest that trust remains in very short supply. One clause envisages penalties of over $560m at current share prices. The hatchet is, at best, half-buried. Read more

Unlike many European leaders, Vladimir Putin has remained on amicable terms with Silvio Berlusconi even after the former Italian prime minister’s ignominious exit from power late last year.

But Putin is not going to let personal loyalties interfere with the strategic partnership Russia and Italy built during the time that his friend dominated Italian politics. A flurry of deals signed on Monday as Mario Monti, Italy’s new premier paid his first working visit to Russia since taking office are testimony to that. Read more