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Eastern Europe

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  • Russian minister talks up the ruble Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 5:44 AM ET

    The ruble collapse has stirred rumors that Russia could introduce capital and currency controls to keep the rate high. The Russian currency has been battered by low oil prices, now around $60 a barrel, down from a June high of $107, as well as the sanctions that the West imposed on Russia for its involvement in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

  • There were also hopes that Greece could avoid destabilizing snap elections after Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made a surprise offer to bring pro-European independents into the government if they backed his choice for new president. Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index advanced by 1 percent, Germany's DAX by 0.9 percent and France's CAC rose 1.2...

  • Belarus enjoys bonanza amid Russia-West tensions Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 2:27 AM ET

    MINSK, Belarus— As relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated, there's one country that's reaping rewards— Belarus, whose authoritarian leader was once dubbed " Europe's last dictator" by the United States and the European Union. Food exports to Russia have been a major hard currency-earner for cash-strapped Belarus, worth $5.7 billion in 2013....

  • Belarus' president promises help for Ukraine Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 12:21 PM ET

    MOSCOW— Belarus' authoritarian president on Sunday promised to help Ukraine as it struggles through its pro- Russia separatist insurgency and economic hardships. Ukraine's year of crisis has been unsettling to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled autocratically since 1994, and wants to fend off any protest movement like those that...

  • ABU DHABI, Dec 21- Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it would not cut output to prop up oil markets even if non- OPEC nations did so, in one of the toughest signals yet that the world's top petroleum exporter plans to ride out the market's biggest slump in years. "If they want to cut production they are welcome: We are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut."

  • At a meeting in November, OPEC kept its target output of 30 million barrels per day unchanged, leaving the market to balance itself without the group's intervention. That stance was seen as a shift from a longstanding policy in which OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia acts as a swing supplier. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he said: "The talk...

  • KYBARTAI, Lithuania, Dec 21- Geopolitics plague Lithuanians at this frozen Russian border post, where a return trip by car can mean 48 hours of queuing. Tensions with Moscow have simmered ever since Lithuania became the first republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, although only 6 percent of the population are Russian speakers, far fewer...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The United States on Friday prohibited investment in Crimea and slapped sanctions on 24 Ukrainians and Russians and several companies it determined were contributing to destabilizing Ukraine. The actions followed similar moves by the European Union this week, and continue the West's policy of not recognizing Moscow's annexation of...

  • The International Monetary Fund said it had productive talks with Ukraine officials this week, but the two parties failed to reach an agreement that would pave the way for Kiev to receive its next bailout tranche next month. Ukraine could default on its debt obligations if the situation does not change in the next few months, S&P said on Friday.

  • BERLIN, Dec 19- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed concern on Friday that EU sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine could destabilize Russia and warned against "turning the screw" any further. The comments to German weekly Der Spiegel suggest a possible softening in the stance of Steinmeier, a member of the traditionally...

  • Putin: Russia military modernization to go ahead Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 10:44 AM ET

    Speaking at a meeting with Russia's top military brass, Putin said the nation's nuclear forces are a "major factor in maintaining global balance," adding that "they effectively preclude the possibility of a large-scale aggression against Russia." The huge military buildup is continuing despite the country's economic woes, triggered by a combination of...

  • BUDAPEST, Hungary— A Hungarian official says a plan to tax Internet use, which provoked huge protests, "is dead and will never come back to life." Prime Minister Viktor Orban promised to shelve the tax, but revisit it in 2015, after street rallies against the plan drew tens of thousands of mostly young protesters. Tamas Deutsch, a member of the European Parliament and...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The International Monetary Fund said Friday it had productive discussions with officials in Ukraine this week, but failed to reach an agreement that would pave the way for Kiev to receive its next bailout tranche next month. Ukraine so far has received two tranches under the IMF program, worth a total of $4.6 billion. The European Union said on...

  • BRUSSELS, Dec 19- European Union leaders warned Moscow they are ready to flex their combined muscle and "stay the course" in a long confrontation with Russia if President Vladimir Putin refuses to pull back from Ukraine. In comments that were part warning to Russia, where falling oil prices and Western trade sanctions have brought financial havoc, and part...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it had productive discussions with officials in Ukraine this week, and planned to return to Kiev for further talks in January. "We found that the Ukrainian authorities are preparing to move decisively on a broad and comprehensive agenda to stabilize and reform the economy, while coping with the...

  • PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA'S MILITARY DOCTRINE REMAINS PURELY DEFENSIVE DESPITE INCREASED NATO ACTIVITY IN EASTERN EUROPE.

  • Belarus slaps 30 percent fee at currency exchanges Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 7:30 AM ET

    MINSK, Belarus— Belarus has imposed a 30 percent fee on currency exchange transactions in an effort to contain panic that has spilled over from neighboring Russia. While Belarus's currency has remained relatively stable in recent months, people in the capital of Minsk have flooded currency exchanges amid worries that the economic crisis in Russia could...

  • How GE changed tack on Russia Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 6:03 AM ET

    LONDON, Dec 19- About five years ago, General Electric Co, the largest Western player in Russia's market for medical equipment, uncovered pervasive corruption in its Russian business. Customs data show that since 2011 GE has made almost all its exports to Russia through a wholly-owned GE subsidiary in Moscow, which then supplies the local market.

  • MOSCOW/ LONDON, Dec 19- Russia pays hugely inflated prices for vital medical equipment made by Western companies, in part because some manufacturers channel sales through obscure intermediary companies, a Reuters examination has found. An analysis of 20,000 transactions dated between January 2006 and July 2013 found that international companies sold...

  • TOKYO, Dec 19- Japan's Nissan Motor Co and French partner Renault SA have stopped taking orders for some cars in Russia and could raise prices on others if the rouble's plunge continues, alliance Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Friday. Russia is Nissan's fifth-largest market and the Japanese firm's alliance with Renault SA, of which Ghosn is chairman and...