Is Russia’s Economy Running Out Of Gas?

She is currently serving a two-year prison sentence after a Moscow court convicted her of hooliganism last year. On September 23, 2013, Tolokonnikova announced her hunger strike in a 2,300-word public letter [ru], published on the popular Internet news site In the letter, she details prisons slave labor conditions and claims that officials have threatened her life. Days after the letter went public, Ilya Shablinksy, a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, visited Tolokonnikovas prison, meeting with her and seven other inmates. In comments [ru] to the press after the interviews, Shablinksy verified Tolokonnikovas allegations, saying the conversations made his hair stand on end. Suddenly reminded of the existence of Pussy Riot and its star iconoclast, Russian bloggers have been mesmerized with Tolokonnikovas resurgent drama. Her letteran eloquent appeal partly for her own safety, but also for the well-being of her fellow inmatespulls back the curtain on living conditions in Russias penitentiary system. Much as her bands infamous punk prayer tapped the countrys polarized attitudes about the Orthodox Churchs role in government, Tolokonnikovas letter and hunger strike (which has already led to her hospitalization [ru]) began a public dialogue about the state of Russian incarceration. There are too many reactionsboth notable and obscureto describe succinctly the RuNets central tendency in this story. The range of responses is extreme. Some bloggers think [ru] Tolokonnikova deserves the harsh life of a sinner and a convict, whereas others describe [ru] her as something closer to a saint. The single most common reaction, it seems, is to express reservations about her past involvement in Pussy Riot and the art group Voina (which included participating in a public orgy while pregnant), but support Tolokonnikovascurrent effort to draw attention to the mistreatment of prisoners. If we split the RuNet between opposition and pro-government bloggers, its possible to note some surprises. For instance, Maksim Kononenko, a generally pro-Kremlin columnist and popular blogger, celebrated [ru] Tolokonnikovas letter as a selfless attempt to rescue her fellow inmates.

Russia’s jailed punk band member hospitalized, husband says

TNK-BP, Russia’s No. 3 oil company, was taken over by Rosneft last year. Since the deal, international minority investors holding around 5 percent in TNK-BP have been left in limbo and unable to find other buyers for their stakes. The value of the investors’ shares has halved since Rosneft agreed to buy the company from a group of Russian billionaires and British company BP. Foreign investors have been citing the case of the TNK-BP investors as an example of bad corporate governance in Russia. Speaking at an investment conference in Sochi on Friday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev floated the idea of a buy-out, saying in televised remarks that it “would improve the investment climate in the case of this company.” Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who was on stage one seat away from Medvedev, agreed with the suggestion, although he noted that Rosneft “had no legal obligations” to buy out the minority shareholders. It is not uncommon in Russia for top officials including President Vladimir Putin to make “suggestions” to state-controlled and private companies on key investment decisions. Rosneft’s board of directors convened later Friday and approved the buy-out, Sechin told Russian news agencies. He said earlier that the company would buy the shares at the 18-month average price. Rosneft previously approved plans to pull out billions of dollars from TNK-BP subsidiaries as loans and indicated that it would not be paying a dividend for the previous fiscal year to TNK-BP shareholders.

Russia’s state-owned Rosneft to buy out minority shareholders in oil firm TNK-BP

Peter Muhly/Reuters/File Enlarge The head of the World Bank in Russia saidWednesdayhe was alarmed by the slowdown in the Russian economy. The bank said the Russian economy was slow to emerge from a recession still gripping parts of the eurozone despite recovery elsewhere in the world. It said the government’s investment activities slowed down in part because of the completion of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. Its dependence on oil and natural gas exports, meanwhile, exposed the Russian economy to additional risks. With Europe finding new sources of natural gas, and Asian economies looking at Canadian markets, the Russian economy is starting to retreat behind the former Iron Curtain. offers extensive coverage of all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and environmental issues. To see more opinion pieces and news analysis that cover energy technology, finance and trading, geopolitics, and sector news, please visit . Recent posts The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition The World Bank said it revised its growth projection for the Russian economy from its May estimate of 2.3 percent to 1.8 percent for 2013. “The economy appears to be growing close to its capacity, constrained by feeble investment activities and a tight labor market,” Birgit Hansl, World Bank coordinator for economic policy in Russia, said in a statement. (Related article: Why Canada’s Oil Future isn’t Going South ) RECOMMENDED: Fracking. Tight oil. Do you know your energy vocabulary? The report said Russia’s dependence on oil and natural gas exports left its economy exposed to volatility on the global commodity market.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin By Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW | Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:51pm EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – A jailed member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot was hospitalized on Friday after going on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, her husband said, but her condition was not clear. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was admitted to the hospital at the prison where she is serving a two-year term for a protest against President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s main Orthodox Christian cathedral, Pyotr Verzilov said. Verzilov said the acting head of the prison had described Tolokonnikova’s condition as “horrible” but had given no further details. He also said prison officials would not show him documents about her transfer to hospital or allow her lawyers to visit. The administration of the prison could not immediately be reached for comment, and prison service employees in the remote Mordovia region declined to comment. Tolokonnikova, 23, announced on Monday that she was starting a hunger strike to protest against “slave labor” at Corrective Colony No. 14, where she is serving her sentence, and that she had received a death threat from a senior prison official. She said inmates were forced to work up to 17 hours a day, deprived of sleep and subjected to collective punishment and violence from senior inmates enforcing order in a system reminiscent of the Soviet-era Gulag forced labor camps. Prison authorities dismissed her accusations that the jail is run in violation of Russian law and human rights standards. ABUSE CLAIM Earlier on Friday, Verzilov gave out a statement from Tolokonnikova in which she said prison guards had taken drinking water away from her isolation cell and one had roughly grabbed her and held her in place by her shoulders. The Mordovia branch of the prison service said the drinking water had been replaced by warm boiled water in accordance with doctor’s orders and that Tolokonnikova had refused to let medics check her body for bruises. Tolokonnikova and two other band members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a February 2012 protest in which they burst into Christ the Saviour Cathedral and prayed to the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin. Kremlin critics say their trial was part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin started a third term at the Kremlin in May 2012. Pussy Riot and other Kremlin critics accuse Putin of fostering too close ties with the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church and discriminating against sexual minorities as part of the wider crackdown. Tolokonnikova is due for release in March.