Kovalchuk May Buy Stake In Tele2 Russia, Sell Part Of Sobinbank

Russia halts Lithuanian dairy imports before EU summit

and Russia have an understanding that the future conference must include all parties inside Syria and important international players, a possible reference to neighboring Iran , which supports Syria with money and weapons. U.S. officials have said they oppose Irans participation unless it part of the solution, rather than stoking the conflict. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a watchdog group based in The Hague , verified yesterday that Syria destroyed missile warheads and production equipment, according to an official from the joint OPCW -UN mission who asked not to be identified. In a further e-mailed comment today, the official said the disarmament team expected continued cooperation as it worked toward achieving further progress. The developments came a week after the UN Security Council approved an agreement demanding the elimination of Syrias non-conventional arms following the August attack. The arsenal is estimated to be the third-largest in the world. Pleased With Pace Were very pleased with the pace of what has happened with respect to chemical weapons, Kerry said. In an interview with Der Spiegel last week, Assad said the international community should not worry about the security of chemical weapons stores because theyre under government control and the stored materials havent been activated. It is not as bad as it is portrayed by the media and believed in the West. There is no need for any undue concern, Assad said in the interview. He also said that a negotiated solution with militants wont be possible. The Security Council approved an agreement on Sept. 27 to eliminate all of Syrias chemical weapons, though the resolution didnt attach consequences for failure to comply or assign blame for the attack. The U.S., U.K. and French governments said they had evidence linking Assads regime to the gas attack.

According to Russian figures, 85 percent of the small Baltic nation’s dairy exports go to Russia. The suspension adds to tension between Russia and Lithuania, which currently holds the EU presidency and is hosting a summit in late November promoting closer trade ties with six ex-Soviet states that are not members of the 28-country bloc. Moscow is building its own trade alliance with former Soviet republics and is reluctant to see its neighbors, particularly Ukraine, slip further out of its sway by signing free-trade and political association agreements with the EU. Lithuania, which borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and joined the EU in 2004, has had transport trucks held up at Russian customs for up to 20 days at a time in recent weeks, causing heavy losses for its freight industry. Taking aim at another sector, the Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor said inspections of Lithuanian dairy imports had revealed “numerous violations” of quality and sanitary standards in products including cheeses and yoghurt. “We are seeing a sharp weakening of (Lithuania’s) position on protecting the rights and safety of consumers,” Rospotrebnadzor chief Gennady Onishchenko said, according to the Interfax news agency. Lithuania exported dairy products worth $193 million to Russia last year, according to the Russian National Milk Producers’ Union – the vast majority of it cheese that is found on many shop shelves. Russia is also stepping up monitoring of Lithuanian meat and fish imports, state-run news agency Prime reported, citing an unidentified source. Rospotrebnadzor declined to comment. POLITICAL PRESSURE Onishchenko regularly denies any geopolitical motives, but past bans on products from ex-Soviet republics – such as wine and mineral water from Georgia – have been widely seen as a form of political pressure. In Brussels, the European Commission said it had “complete confidence” in the quality of Lithuanian dairy products and called for discussions with the Russian side.

Sonny Weems’ plan to make it back to NBA from Russia

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16) shoots over Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov (25) during the first half at Staples Center.

29, 2013. (Credit: AP/Keystone, Peter Klaunzer) Things arent looking particularly promising for the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists arrested for boarding a Russian oil rig in the Arctic. But authorities alleged mishandling of the situation is creating its own set of problems for Moscow. According to the Associated Press , several governments now appear ready to add the Greenpeace detentions to their grown log of complaints about Russias treatment of human rights issues under President Vladimir Putin. The announcement , two weeks back, that they would be charged with piracy for their actions, drew scrutiny from many, including the U.S. Department of State, which said that it was monitoring the case very closely. All face jail time of up to 15 years if convicted. The Guardian reported today that some of the jailed activists are being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, according to Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Internationals executive director.Naidoo also raised concerns about extremely cold cells and noted that the group had been split up among several prisons. International support for the activists, however, is growing. They now have their own nickname the Arctic 30 and over the weekend, vigils throughout the world were held in their honor. Jude Law, designer Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Clash guitarist Paul Simonon and musician Damon Albarnwere among the celebrities spotted at a protests outside the Russian embassy in London. Greenpeace, meanwhile, will continue to work to save the Arctic [and] prevent catastrophic climate change while resisting the inaction on the part of governments who should be taking leadership, said Naidoo. Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainability. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

“In the NBA, it’s up and down, up and down,” Weems said. “In Europe, you have to slow your game down. I had to learn how to use my brain instead of my natural ability.” Weems said he had to re-invent himself as a player and prove he could do more than just rely on athleticism. But even after a decent year in Lithuania, which ended late in the season with a badly sprained ankle, there was minimal interest in Weems from NBA teams. So he signed with CSKA Moscow in the 2012 offseason and helped CSKA to a Russian title and third-place finish in the Euroleague last season. Playing for respected Italian coach Ettore Messina, who spent the 2011-12 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Weems averaged 12.1 points and shot 42.1% on three-pointers for CSKA. He was the Euroleague player of the month in October last season, averaging 20.3 point in three games. He scored 29 of his 61 points in the fourth quarter and overtime that month. “Once I got used to the European game, my game went to another level. I became more of half-court player and learned how to use the pick-and-rolls, and not just a run-and shoot guy,” Weems said. Weems has adapted to life in Europe though he admits his Russian “is terrible. Probably the worst ever.” Through high-tech devices, Weems watches American TV in his Moscow condo.

Russia under fire for treatment of jailed Greenpeace activists

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Kovalchuk, an ally of Vladimir Putin from the presidents hometown of St. Petersburg , may use Tele2 Russia to expand in telecommunications and media. The businessman controls National Media Group and is also a co-owner of CTC Media Inc. (CTCM) with the Stenbeck family, which formed Tele2 AB. (TEL2B) Two Bank Rossiya affiliates asked for antitrust approval last week to buy as much as 50 percent in Tele2 Russia from VTB Group. The deal may be worth $1.5 billion, according to ZAO Raiffeisenbank in Moscow. After the deal, Tele2 Russia may be combined with state-controlled OAO Rostelecoms mobile unit, Vedomosti reported today. Bank Rossiya may bring new partners into its Sobinbank unit to develop a mobile bank, Karmaev said. Rostelecom is interested in entering the financial services market, Kira Kiryukhina, a spokeswoman for the telecommunications operator, said by phone today, declining to comment on a Kommersant report today that the company is in talks to buy Sobinbank. Rostelecom may use Sobinbank to develop financial services to mimic OAO Mobile TeleSystems, Russias largest wireless carrier, which offers banking services in its retail stores, Sergey Libin, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank in Moscow, said by phone. Even with an acquisition, it will be more difficult for Rostelecom because of its smaller retail network. To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net