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1. Recently, President Medvedev urged Russian oligarchs to pay their “moral debt”? What does this mean in concrete terms? Moral debt in Russia is a case of the three monkeys who see, hear, and speak no evil. In theory, the Russian President means that men who seized most of Russia’s natural resource wealth more than [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow The announcement from Mechel on March 26 that it has agreed with its bankers on a 51-day extension of time to repay or refinance a $1.5 billion loan, which fell due on March 20, has exposed a grave failure of arithmetic in the marketplace. And that’s not all. Headlined by [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco) has released through a wire service a set of unaudited financial estimates for the full year 2008. The release was unusual, analysts said, and appears timed to counteract the impact of a downgrade by the Moody’s rating agency in Moscow on Thursday. Despite better than [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow In 1930, at the start of the Great Depression, a story was published in the US with the purpose of convincing children that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded. That idea being none too original, it turns out that the tale of the small anthropomorphic locomotive, who pulls [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Russia’s steelmakers have a better chance to lift output and revenues on a recovery in export demand, especially in the China market, than on reviving domestic demand for steel. This forecast, issued in a steel sector report of March 24 by Troika Dialog investment bank in Moscow, flatly contradicts the [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow For weeks, Alrosa, Russia’s diamond mining challenger to De Beers, has been waiting for the appearance of a miracle to keep the mines producing at last year’s volumes, and avoid layoffs and financial damage to the fareastern region of Sakha, where Alrosa is the chief income generator. That miracle is [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Denmark-based fleet operator Norden has hit United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly controlled by Oleg Deripaska, with claims for shipping contract violations since last September. The liabilities total $98.3 million. Court documents break publicly for the first time the code of silence which usually covers Russian commodity trades, the [...]

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Starting in the third quarter of last year, United Company Rusal started cancelling shipping contracts for cargoes of bauxite between Australia and Sardinia. On February 4, 2009, Norden, a Danish company with whom Rusal had a long-term contract for vessel delivery of its bauxite, filed suit in the federal US Court in New York, seeking [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has put his signature on one of the strangest mining prospector’s pay-sheets ever drafted in the history of mining. According to the prevailingRussian law, now one year old, if a miner does not qualify as Russian, and if what he discovers is big and valuable enough, [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow The Moscow and New York stock markets appear to have been taken unawares by the disclosure that Igor Zyuzin’s steel and coal-mining group Mechel is in court over an unpaid demand by BNP Paribas for $60 million. The share price of the fifth-ranked Russian steelmaker rose 1.3% in Wednesday’s Moscow [...]