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US, Russia Want Clarity on Iran Nuclear Issue

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

Putin pledges to unblock Russia LNG to tackle Asia demand

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Putin receives flame for Russia’s Olympic Games

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (on the sidelines of an economic summit in Indonesia) that Iran likely wants “more clarity” about the way forward. “Iran probably wants more clarity,” Lavrov said. “More specific steps to be spelled out on the road to the result which we all want to achieve. And I think this will be discussed next week in Geneva, a meeting to which Iran agreed. And to which Iran and three plus three are getting ready in a very constructive mood, as our contacts in New York show.” Kerry said the United States is encouraged by Iran’s recent outreach efforts, but that actions, and not words, are what will make a difference. “So what we need are a set of proposals from Iran that fully disclose how they will show the world that their program is peaceful,” Kerry said. “And we have made it clear that if there are those indicators, the United States and our allies are absolutely prepared to move in appropriate ways to meet their actions. Kerry said Iran has not responded to an offer the P5+1 group made earlier this year, which called for Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and halt enrichment at one of its nuclear facilities. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that offer was no longer valid, and that the P5+1 should come to next week’s negotiations with a “new point of view.” Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes and wants the international community to lift a range of sanctions imposed for its refusal to halt enrichment activity. The possible threat of a ballistic missile strike from countries like Iran has led the United States to plan a missile shield in Europe. Russia disagrees with the move, saying the system could neutralize its own strategic missile force and leave it vulnerable to the West. Kerry said Monday it is too early to make determinations about the system as long as the Iranian threat continues. But he said the U.S.

“I would not attach too much importance to what happened and call on people not to pay attention to it,” he said. People watch a ceremony of the start the Olympic Flame relay across Russia at the Red square in Mosc Relay runners will cover 65,000 kilometres (40,400 miles) as they wind their way across Russia’s 83 regions — stopping only to see the torch visit the International Space Station on November 7-11. Russia takes great pride in its space programme and spent years looking for a way to feature the ISS in the Olympic event. The final plan will see the torch flown to the space station by a special Soyuz mission while the flame itself remains safely rooted to the ground. The silver-and-red torch will then be taken out for an honorary space walk on November 9 by Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky. Russian officials have made clear that the torch will not be lit when it boards the Soyuz because of the dangers involved. “It would be strange if a cosmonaut went into a rocket with a lit torch,” Kotov joked before blasting off for the ISS on September 26. The flame will also visit the North Pole aboard a nuclear-powered icebreaker and be taken to the bottom of Lake Baikal. ‘Human rights violations’ Putin was at his diplomatic best when he managed in 2007 to convince the International Olympic Committee to bring the Winter Games to Sochi — a Black Sea summer resort lined with beaches and Russia’s lone stretch of palm trees. Russia has since earmarked a record $50 billion (37 billion euros) of state and corporate money for construction projects aimed at turning Sochi into a global tourism magnet after all the athletes depart. Environmental groups have panned the massive project for its alleged disregard for local flora and fauna as well as its use of low-cost migrant labour. But some of the heaviest criticism has come from international human rights groups and governments concerned with what many fear is an increasingly shaky state of freedom under Putin’s rule.