Monthly Archives: February 2013

Presidential Car Contest

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The delicate task of designing a new car for the Russian president is still ahead for big companies. But dozens of professional and amateur designers have already rushed to compete in the “Auto for the President” contest. The contest invited everyone aged 18 or more to try and devise a modern look for the presidential limousine and its cortege.

A prize of 150,000 rubles for the best project, as well as decent rewards for two other winners, attracted more than 40 skilled professionals and design students, as well as some 80 amateur designers from Russia and other countries. The contestants are to combine such household retro brands as “ZiL” and “Chaika” with modern designs and features but they are also allowed to think of their own “perspective design.” The best project is meant to provide the basis for a new series of presidential cars.

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Zenit Launch Fails

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Russia’s Zenit launch vehicle, which took off from a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean as part of the Sea Launch program, fell back into the ocean. The Mission Control Center is forming a commission to investigate the accident.
The first stage of the rocket malfunctioned. The rocket took an incorrect trajectory immediately after takeoff. Ivan Kharchenko of Russia’s Military Industry Committee said a report laid before PM Dmitry Medvedev made Ukrainians responsible for defective units they contributed in the launch of the Ukrainian-Russian Zenit-3SL rocket that was carried out in the framework of the joint “Navy Launch” project.

Russia Back to the Mediterranean

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Russia is due to provide its permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea by deploying an operational formation of the Russian Navy. The squadron will consist of ships from the Black Sea, the Northern and the Baltic Fleets.
The new formation will be made to the pattern of the Fifth Operational Squadron of the former USSR Navy. During his visit to the Black Sea Fleet the Russian Defence Minister stressed that the Mediterranean region was the core of all essential dangers to Russia’s national interests.
The Russian Mediterranean squadron is to be provided with comprehensive logistical support but at present the only Russian base and naval facility abroad is the Syrian port of Tartus. And it is essential to update the ships of the Black Sea Fleet.

Russian Copters at Avalon 2013

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The best models of Russian-made helicopters are on show at the Avalon 2013 Airshow and Aerospace and Defense Exposition in Geelong, Australia. One of the gems of the Russian exhibits is the Kamov Ka-32A11BC multipurpose helicopter provided with water discharge devices and water cannons. Thanks to a unique combination of coaxial rotors, this helicopter is considered one of the world’s best firefighting aircraft. The Russian designers are also presenting the Kamov Ka-62 multipurpose medium helicopter and the upgraded Mil Mi-171A2 which is regarded the most efficient and energy-saving model of the Mil group.

“Air Hooligans” Black List

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Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has suggested that pilots and stewards should have the right to use electric shockers and handcuffs against passengers who would break the peace during flights.

Several Russian air companies asked the Air Transport Agency to allow pilots and stewards to use force against hooligans in planes. However, there is one detail – at present, in Russia, only representatives of law-enforcement structures have the right to use force against people.

Russia’s Criminal Code envisions up to 12 years of prison for breaking peace in planes. The only fine which the current Russian laws envision for a hooligan, because of whom a plane has made an unplanned landing, is 500 rubles. Theoretically, an air company can issue a lawsuit to make the hooligan pay the entire sum of the losses, but there have been no precedents of such lawsuits in Russia.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency is suggesting to compile a “black list” of “air hooligans” and to ban anyone who has once got in this list from flying by planes.

Mexico to Use Russian Superjet 100

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The Mexican airline Interjet has announced plans to replace its fleet of European made Airbus 320s with a state-of-the-art Russian short-haul passenger aircraft SuperJet-100s for use on domestic flights. For two years the aircraft will be used to service a new network of routes between cities in Mexico. The airline reports that plans are in place for about 20 Russian planes which will begin to arrive in Mexico beginning in June of this year. The company clarified that the replacement of the A320 will be on the shortest and most profitable routes, where the use of the smaller capacity SSJ-100 will be more economically profitable.

Russia’s Arms Exports

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The IDEX arms fair in Abu Dhabi is over. Russia showcased many samples of its latest hardware. Russia is the second arms exporter to the Middle East after the United States. Saudi Arabia is the chief buyer of American arms. It has mega contracts with the Pentagon for the supply of F-1SSA jet fighters, combat helicopters, ground-based equipment and expensive high-precision weapons.
Russia cannot compete with the United States on the Israeli and Saudi markets, but it trades successfully with other Middle East countries. Russia is close to singing a breakthrough contract with Iraq. It has been successfully cooperating with Algeria, Jordan, the Emirates, and other Middle East and Arab nations. Libya and Egypt renewed interest towards Russian arms.

US Ready to Cut Battlefield Nuclear Arms

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The US is ready to cut the number of its battlefield nuclear weapons on condition that Russia takes similar steps. The total number of US battlefield nuclear warheads is estimated at about 760 units. 150-250 units are deployed on the US air bases in Europe and Turkey, while the rest are kept in the US.

Russia’s battlefield nuclear warheads potential according to estimates of different experts, is much bigger. However Americans have their tactical forces deployed near the Russian borders while Russia holds all its weapons on its territory and therefore these weapons do not threaten the US’ national security. Cutting the number of battlefield nuclear weapons on mutual basis with Russia had been the long time goal of Obama’s administration.

It should be noted that the the presence of US battlefield nuclear weapons in Europe already violates the agreement on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons under which nuclear powers are banned from the deployment of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear states.

RusAl Office Raided by Investigators

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The central Moscow headquarters of aluminum giant RusAl were raided by investigators as part of allegations of massive tax evasion at its foil-making subsidiary. The materials uncovered during the raid will be added to the case files. The raid was based on “groundless claims” by tax authorities and the Investigative Committee against RusAl Foil and its management.

The Investigative Committee opened a probe into RusAl Foil chief executive Igor Kasyanov on suspicion that he evaded more than 200 million rubles in income and value-added taxes. Investigators suspect Kasyanov of providing fake information on RusAl Foil expenses attributed to its cooperation with a bogus firm purportedly used to evade taxes between 2008 and 2009.

Chemezov Likely to Join Norilsk Board

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Russian Technologies head Sergei Chemezov is likely to get a seat on Norilsk Nickel’s new board of directors.

“Chemezov is an independent director, and RusAl has always said there should be more professional and independent directors on Norilsk Nickel’s board,” the RusAl source said.

Metalloinvest, which owns approximately 4 percent in the nickel company, said it would give all its votes to Chemezov. The mining company hopes that Chemezov, being an independent director, will help improve corporate governance at Norilsk Nickel.

Chemezov, 60, is a former KGB officer and a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, with whom he served in East Germany in the 1980s. He is also a board member or chairman of the board of such state-owned companies, as Rusnano and Russian Technologies subsidiary Oboronprom.