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By John Helmer, Moscow Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), owned by Victor Rashnikov (left image), released its second-quarter operational report today, several days behind schedule. The report confirms the Russia-wide trend, already reported here, of cutbacks by the steelmaker for most types of its domestic production. The news may be awkward for Rashnikov, because a fortnight [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Alrosa, Russia’s near-monopoly diamond miner, is for the third year running the world’s largest diamond miner. The good news appears in a brief summary report issued by the company this week. Production by Alrosa in the six months to June 30, this year, comes to 19 million carats. That compares with [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It’s almost August, the month when everyone knows that serious coincidences can happen in Russia – and I’m not talking about the lunar cycle or Ramadan. In election years, the prevention of coincidences has always been Kremlin Priority Number-One. This year that’s tempered by President Dmitry Medvedev’s concern that nothing coincidental [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Faced with a Bulgarian government-ordered shutdown of its Burgas oil refinery, LUKoil, the Russian oil producer and exporter, began emergency negotiations with Bulgarian officials this morning, a LUKoil source told Fairplay. Bulgarian opposition politicians say the negotiations are being staged by Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (image right) to protect his [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow On February 1, 2010, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a report on operational results for the previous year, 2009, of the Mechel steel and mining group, Russia’s fifth-ranked steelmaker, which is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The group is owned by Igor Zyuzin (image, [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The fight by China Inc. to keep control over the flow and price of manganese into Chinese refineries, and out of the hands of pesky international shareholders, has moved into Round-3 after Rounds 1 and 2 turned into bruising knockdowns. OM Holdings (OMH) — a Singapore-based manganese miner and metals refiner [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow In the finale of the film Casablanca, the Humphrey Bogart character has shot the German officer to enable his ex-lover Ilsa and her husband, a Resistance man on the run, to make good their escape. Captain Renault sees an opportunity to do the right thing for a change, protecting Bogey and [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Russia, it turns out, has the only government in the world able and willing to do real damage to Rupert Murdoch – and throw him out. While the UK and US governments hold their breaths as squads of policemen poke through the Murdoch media files to find evidence of corrupt entertainments [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), owned by Sergei Generalov, announced yesterday it has acquired MetizTrans, a small railcar operator in eastern Siberia. No value for the transaction was disclosed; MetizTrans owns 971 railcars, used mostly for delivering Russian coal to Sea of Japan ports for export. The announced purchase makes a [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow EN+, one of Oleg Deripaska’s holding companies, announced today it has swapped $500 million of its debt to VTB, the Russian state bank, for a 4.35% shareholding which the bank will now hold in EN+. Oleg Deripaska, who owns all of EN+ through another of his holding companies, Basic Element, was [...]