Russia-China sign several documents following Putin-Hu Jintao talks in Beijing; South Stream construction to begin by the end of 2012; Gazprom ready to pay in advance for gas transit through Ukraine; Russia has registered three new political parties; Russ
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  • (JUNE 4-10)

    According to reports, Russia and China have signed a joint statement on further development of relations of overwhelming equal trustful partnership and strategic cooperation. The document was signed following negotiations between President Vladimir Putin and China’s Chairman Hu Jintao. The sides initial the Protocol to the International agreement on cooperation in construction in China of a nuclear power plant and on Russia’s state loan to China. The two leaders witnessed signing of the Memorandum on mutual understanding between Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technologies on improving cooperation in industry, between the Federal agency on tourism and the China National Tourism Administration of tourism on further expanding of cooperation in tourism. Itar-Tass and Xinhua signed an agreement on information cooperation amongst other documents that were isgned. 1

    In another development, Russian President Putin has said that the construction for the south stream gas pipeline project will start by the end of 2012. This comes in the background of the Turkish government having given the permission to let pass the pipeline through its exclusive economic zone. 2

    Reports noted that Gas major Gazprom is ready to make an advanced payment for the transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian territory to form that country’s financial reserve for pumping gas to its underground storage facilities. This will allow using around 2 billion dollars that Gazprom should pay Ukraine for the gas transit until the end of 2012. 3

    The Russian Justice Ministry has announced the registration of three more political parties under a new legislation ushered in earlier this year by then-President Dmitry Medvedev following a wave of protests over alleged vote fraud. The new parties - Young Russia, Cities of Russia and New Russia - increase the number of registered parties to 12. The new law also radically reduces the number of members required for registration to 500 people from 40,000 previously. 4

    Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov and Russian President Vladimir Putin have signed the Declaration of Enhanced Strategic Partnership between the two countries and the Memorandum of Understanding at their talks in Tashkent held on June 4, 2012. Under the memorandum, Uzbekistan will have to complete the talks by the end of the year and join the free trade zone between former Soviet republics. 5

    In another development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged the international community to organize a special international meeting on the situation in Syria in order to talk to the conflicting parties into cessation of violence and initiating dialogue. 6

    Meanwhile, reports noted that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has decreased both the euro's official exchange rate and the U.S. dollar's official exchange rate against the Russian rouble starting from June 7, 2012. The official exchange rate of the euro against the Russian rouble was lowered by 55.67 kopecks to 40.9501 roubles for one euro while the dollar's official exchange rate against the rouble was dropped by 41.12 kopecks and reached 32.7889 roubles for one dollar. 7

    The 5th Russia-Japan investment forum will open at Kazan on June 6, 2012. The investment forum is a key event in bilateral Russia-Japan cooperation. Its principal purpose is to promote the development and strengthening of trade-and-economic relations and attract investments. Key issues to be discussed include expansion of cooperation in the fields of innovations, high-technology production processes, commercialization of scientific research and development, innovative projects in engineering, chemical and food industries, medicine, and pharmaceuticals. 8

    According to reports, the protocol on Russia’s accession in the World Trade Organization will be ratified by the State Duma on July 4, 2016. 9

    According to reports, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing has said that he is interested in Russia’s active participation in all Afghan affairs. Amongst the issues discussed were increased scholarships for the Afghan students, Russian companies potential participation in the Afghan economy, construction of the House of Russian Science and Culture in Kabul and assistance to Afghan security forces. 10

    Reports noted that Russian and Israeli diplomats have discussed a host of issues in Moscow ranging from the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the state of affairs in the Middle East settlement. Russia also reiterated the need to create conditions for the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. 11

    According to reports, Russian and US diplomats will hold discussions on Syria in Moscow on June 8, 2012. This comes in the backdrop of Russia having made it clear that the future of Assad’s regime should be decided by the Syrian people themselves and Russia will certainly not allow the approval of a Libyan scenario in the UN Security Council. 12

    Reports noted that President Vladimir Putin has signed a law tightening punishment for rally violations. The law sets differentiated rates of fines for breaching rally regulations, including the rules of rally organization, drinking alcohol and consuming narcotics in public places, blocking roads and so on. The maximal punishment is set at 300,000 roubles for individuals and 600,000 for officials. 13