Non-working days in Russia

The officially published Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 04/04/2020 No. 239 established that the period from April 4 to April 30, 2020, inclusive, is non-working days with salaries retained by employees.

However, as before, the decree does not apply to certain organizations that must continue to work during the non-working period.

These organizations include:

  • continuously operating organizations;
  • medical and pharmacy organizations;
  • organizations providing the population with food and essential goods;
  • organizations carrying out urgent work in an emergency situation;
  • organizations carrying out urgent repair and handling operations;
  • organizations providing financial services in terms of emergency functions (first of all, settlement and payment services);
  • other organizations defined by regional authorities on the basis of the sanitary-epidemiological situation and the characteristics of the spread of new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) in the subject of the Russian Federation.

Russian and Armenian prime ministers pledge to maintain trade flows

The Russian and Armenian Prime Ministers, Mikhail Mishustin and Nikol Pashinyan, focused in a phone call on the measures aimed at stemming the spread of novel coronavirus and emphasized the need to maintain trade flows, the Russian government said in a statement on Saturday.

“The heads of government discussed the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus. Mikhail Mishustin and Nikol Pashinyan touched on pressing issues of the Russian-Armenian cooperation in trade and the economy and underscored the importance of maintaining the trade flows between Russia and Armenia in full,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Pashinyan wrote on Facebook that “the Russian government’s step has aroused concern among Armenian business people.”

“I want to calm everyone down. This decision is not related to our cargoes. We discussed the issue with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and he confirmed that the cargoes would be delivered from Armenia to Russia and back as usual,” the Armenian prime minister said.

Due to bad weather, plenty of vehicles lined up at the Verkhny Lars border checkpoint, so talks are underway – both in Russia and Georgia – to ensure that cargo transportation could get back to normal.

“I would like to thank the Russian and Georgian counterparts for constructive dialogue which will help us solve the problem aggravated by the coronavirus situation,” the Armenian prime minister said.

In late December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak caused by a novel coronavirus was reported in central China’s Hubei province. After the coronavirus denoted as COVID-19 broke out of the region, it spread across China and then throughout the world, affecting more than 160 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest reports, over 575,000 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus have been confirmed globally, as the virus’ death toll surged to over 26,000.

Source: TASS

Russia completely closes borders

Starting March 30, automobile, railway, pedestrian, river and mixed checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation will be completely closed in Russia. The corresponding order was signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

These measures were taken to prevent the entry of new coronavirus infection into the country.

At the same time, the border will remain open for certain categories of citizens, in particular for diplomats, members of official delegations, truck drivers of international road traffic or river vessels and trains. In addition, exceptions are provided for residents of the LPR and DPR with Russian passports, as well as for people traveling abroad in connection with the death of a close relative.

Trade turnover between North Korea and Russia up 40.6% in 2019

Trade turnover between North Korea and Russia totaled $47.9 mln in 2019, an increase of 40.6% compared with the previous year, according to the data released by the International Trade Center (ITC), South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

Pyongyang imported goods worth $44.86 mln from Russia last year, while North Korean exports to Russia exceeded $3 mln.

Kremlin says Russia and Saudi Arabia do not wage wars over oil prices

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia and Saudi Arabia are not waging any wars over oil prices. He is certain that other states should not interfere in the partnership between the two countries.

“There are no price wars between Russia and Saudi Arabia. There is a very unfavorable pricing environment for many countries,” he told reporters.

According to him, Russia and Saudi Arabia have “good relations, a partnership.” “We do not think that anyone should intervene in these relations,” Peskov added.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump said that he was about to join in a discussion of the situation around the differences between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil.

Peskov noted that the Kremlin paid attention to this statement. “We understand that indeed many companies are now suffering due to low oil prices, we know that the huge US oil sector is now in distress because of these prices,” he said, adding that he meant those who produce shale oil. “There is a serious crisis, we also understand this,” Peskov said.

Not a catastrophe

The Brent oil price of $25 per barrel is adverse but it not catastrophic, according to Peskov.

“Certainly, this price situation is fairly unpleasant. It is possible to agree in this respect,” Peskov said.

However, Russia has a sufficient safety margin, the press secretary said. “When saying that this is a catastrophe for Russia, there is probably no way of agreeing with this in midterm, since as our president and our government reiterated that we have a solid safety margin for several years, which will support fulfilling all social commitments, development plans, and so on,” Peskov added.

“There were times when the price was even lower,” the press secretary said. Hardly anyone will venture to forecast international oil prices situation for a year ahead and more, Peskov said. “Even if somebody undertakes forecasting, such forecasts will hardly be accurate to any extent,” he noted.

OPEC+ agreement participants failed to decide on further oil production cuts in view of the falling demand due to the coronavirus spread during consultations on March 6. Oil prices have fallen since then. All the limitations of oil production will be lifted from April 1.

Global economy will recover after COVID-19 situation stabilizes

The global economy will begin to recover after the current situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) stabilizes, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said during the government session on economic issues on Saturday. He added that Russia’s oil industry is ready for volatility on world markets.

“Today, the global economy is going through a very negative period, which directly affects the oil market: oil prices have dropped by over 60% since the start of the year and by 55% in the past month,” Mishustin stated. “This happened due to the effect of the coronavirus on the global economy and the risk of expanded supply.” He noted that the daily oil price moves surpass 10%, which is “a clear sign of uncertainty of market players about the next steps.”

The Russian head of government explained that the situation with the novel coronavirus is the most significant factor affecting the economy and causing a drop in oil prices.

“The global economy will begin to recover gradually only after the epidemiological situation in the world normalizes,” he added. “The Russian oil industry is ready for such volatility, it is one of the most competitive [industries] in the world.”

Mishustin added that Russian companies maintain their production volume. “As for petrol prices, the government and the Ministry of Energy monitor the supply of oil products to the market daily and exercise price control,” he added.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan, a large trade and industrial center with a population of 12 million, in late December 2019. Cases of the new coronavirus have also been reported in more than 150 countries and territories, among them Russia, which by now has over 250 cases, including over 130 cases in Moscow. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the novel coronavirus cases across the globe have exceeded 240,000, with more than 10,000 deaths. WHO has officially described the situation with the novel coronavirus as a pandemic.

Export of rare drugs from the EAEU may be banned due to COVID-19

The Eurasian Economic Commission (ECE) may introduce a ban on the export of critical medicines from the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, RIA Novosti reported.

The plan of the Russian government to ensure sustainable economic development in the context of the coronavirus says that the ban will also affect medical equipment and materials, protective and hygiene products.

It is assumed that the corresponding decision of the Government of the Russian Federation will be adopted by March 25, and the decision of the EEC Council by April 15. The Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Federal Customs Service have been appointed responsible executors from the Russian side.

On Thursday, the ECE press service announced that an interim coordinating council had been set up within the commission to monitor the situation with the coronavirus and develop rapid response measures. It is supposed that it will help the EAEU states in the fight against the virus, and will also become a platform for developing concerted actions and recommendations for protecting public health.


Russia and UAE work together on upgrading Havana port infrastructure

New automatic grain unloader has begun operating in the Cuban port of Havana; this new installation will allow Cuba to reduce docking time for cargo ships and compensate for loss of capacity after last year’s tornado. Russia and the UAE, in cooperation with the UN World Food Programme, assisted in implementation of this project.

The launch ceremony was attended by Sergei Reshchikov, the Russian minister counsellor in Cuba, UAE ambassador Bader Almatrooshi, and World Food Programme representative Paolo Mattei.

“The issue of support to humanitarian and socio-economic initiatives, implemented on the Island of Freedom, resonates with the Russian Federation. Cuba is one of Russia’s main economic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the Russian diplomat said.

The new equipment will allow Cuba to cut expenses on grain ship anchorage, which might take up to $12,000 per day, and reduce unloading time.

In late January last year, a Tornado damaged some 1,200 residential buildings, tearing off more than 200 roofs and cutting more than 220,000 people off electricity. At least seven died, according to reports.

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