Russian president Vladimir Putin is due to sign the contract for a 2014 Grand Prix in the resort city Sochi on Thursday.
It emerged last weekend that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had agreed terms for the race, to be held on a bespoke circuit, and was only waiting for the agreement to be formally signed.
"When the appropriate person from Russia signs it, I will sign it the next day," he told the Kommersant daily.
The Bloomberg news agency said the contract due to be signed by Putin is for an initial seven years, with an option for a further five grands prix beyond 2020.
Ecclestone said Russia's annual fee would be about $40 million, comparable to what new hosts Singapore and Abu Dhabi pay. Kommersant said the Sochi circuit would cost about $200 million.
In 2014, Sochi - located in Russia's southern federal district - is also due to host the Winter Olympics.
Putin is also backing Russia's bid for the 2018 World Cup, with Sochi earmarked for a stadium.
In March, he announced Russia's support of the country's first Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov in the form of Lada backing for the Renault team.
Sochi to host Formula 1 Grand Prix - paper
Russia's Black sea resort city of Sochi will host a Formula-1 Grand Prix races in 2014-2020, a business daily said on Thursday.
Vedomosti daily said the governor of the Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachev, will sign a contract on Thursday with the president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, Bernie Ecclestone. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will also take part in the ceremony of signing the contract.
Russia has been trying to host Formula-1 races since the late Soviet era.
"All the private projects that have been proposed until recently, failed. They lacked money as well as management," Vedomosti cited F1 veteran commentator Alexei Popov as saying.
"Such an ambitious project became possible only due to the political will of high-profile officials."
Some of Russia's largest companies, including Rostekhnologii, mobile provider Megafon, LUKoil, and RusAl, may invest $300-$600 million in the construction of an F1 track, Vedomosti said.
MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti)
October 14, 2010 12:11
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to sign agreement on joint macroeconomic policy in near future
http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?id=195296 MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) - An agreement between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on macroeconomic policy could be signed in the near future, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at the fifth plenary session of the Russia-EU Dialogue on financial and macroeconomic policy.
"We have prepared a draft agreement on a mutual macroeconomic policy between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which forms a single economic space," Kudrin said. He added that this agreement calls for routine discussion and approval on the main points of macroeconomic and budget policy, as well as a joint approach for economic reform and maintaining macroeconomic stability.
The contract between the Bulgarian National Electric Company (NEK) and Russian company Atomstroyexport has been extended by 6 months, Russian agencies informed. The contract which expired on September 30 has been prolonged till March 31, 2011. During this period Russia expects that the selection of a new consultant on the project is finalized in Bulgaria. The consultant is expected to restructure the project and to find new investors, Standart sources state. So far, Serbia shows the strongest desire to buy shares in Belene NPP. In the energy circles it is said that a westen company shows a very serious interest in the project but it still waits for the selection of the new consultant and just then to take an active part in the project.
Medvedev has no plans to meet with Belarusian leader - Kremlin chief of staff
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has no plans to meet with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, the Kremlin chief of staff said.
"There are no bilateral meetings on our agenda... But I think they may meet in multilateral formats in which Russia and Belarus take part, notably CSTO, Eurasec and CIS," Sergei Naryshkin said at a meeting with Belarusian journalists.
Relations between Moscow and Minsk have been strained over several economic and political disputes, including Russian gas transits, and Lukashenko's failure to honor his promise to recognize the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
After months of backbiting, including a three-part documentary called "The Godfather" slashing Lukashenko's authoritarian policies, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hit out for real last Sunday.
Responding to Minsk's allegations that the Kremlin was interfering in Belarus's presidential election campaign, Medvedev accused Lukashenko in his weekly video blog of "hysterical anti-Russian rhetoric."
Naryshkin said that ties with the present Belarusian leadership may be mended on the condition that Minsk admits that its current anti-Russian rhetoric is harmful.
"The Belarusian leadership should realize that the current election campaign, based on anti-Russian rhetoric, inflicts serious damage to ties between the two states, and to the peoples of the two states," he said.
"I do not rule out that if such an understanding emerges, the relations may take a turn for the better... But this understanding should be in word and deed," Naryshkin added.
He said the December 19 elections in Belarus were the country's "purely internal matter" and Russia had no plans to interfere.
"Recognizing or not recognizing the outcome of the elections will depend not on who is elected but on how the electoral procedure and the election campaign corresponds with legal norms, primarily with Belarusian laws and internationally accepted standards," the official said.
MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti)
14 October 2010, 10:29
Byelorussian autocephaly was not discussed between Lukashenko, Patriarch Bartholomew – administration
Minsk, October 14, Interfax - Minsk has called "ludicrous" and "provocative" the allegations by some Russian media outlets that during Byelorussian President Alexander Lukashenko's recent visit to Turkey, he might have discussed with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople the possibility of creating an autocephaly of the Byelorussian Orthodox Church.
"Such reports which surfaced in the Russian press are another vile provocation, of which there have been more and more lately," chief of the Byelorussian presidential administration Vladimir Makei told Interfax.
"Byelorussians are openly laughing at hordes of media hoaxes forced by Russians into the Byelorussian territory, and get bored if a day passes without such hoaxes," he said.
"Yesterday it was the lie about Alexander Lukashenko considering Byelorussia's pullout from the Customs Union, the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] and other integration organizations, should Russia challenge the validity of our presidential election. Today it was the lie about the Byelorussian Orthodox Church's plans to secede from the Russian Orthodox Church, and tomorrow there will be piggish squeals about Russians being discriminated and killed in Byelorussia," Makei said.
"As for the ludicrousness of the claims about talks between Alexander Lukashenko and the patriarch of Constantinople regarding the creation of some autocephaly, I would like it to be known that Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was aware of the scheduled visit by the Byelorussian President to Turkey and personally blessed the meeting between the Byelorussian President and Patriarch Bartholomew," said the chief of the presidential administration.
"The rest is from the category of conjectures," Makei said.
Commenting on the reports about Lukashenko's meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew, the Byelorussian Orthodox Church told Interfax that, "such speculative judgments have no bearing on the real existence of the Byelorussian Orthodox Church."
Gazeta.ru/Russia Today: Such was the arrival
http://rt.com/Top_News/Press/eng.html Aleksandr Lukashenko was possibly considering a Belarusian Orthodox autocephaly
By Denis Lavnikevich (Minsk) and Ksenia Solyanskaya
One of the topics discussed during a closed-door meeting between Aleksandr Lukshenko and Patriarch of Constantinople Varfolomey was the possibility of making the Belarusian Orthodox Church autocephalous, says a source from the Minsk exarchate. A staff member of the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the president of Belarus who spoke about autocephaly was immediately fired. Lukashenko will not separate the local church from the Russian Orthodox Church, he is simply teasing Moscow, say experts.
The Belarusian president’s visit to Turkey had from the very beginning seemed strange. Instead of arriving in the capital of Ankara, which happens during state visits, he traveled to Istanbul. The Turkish state news agency, Anadolu, reported: “Lukashenko arrived in Turkey on a personal airplane. In the state hotel of Ataturk Airport, he was greeted by an aide to Istanbul’s governor, Celalettin Yuksel. On his visit to Istanbul, Lukashenko was accompanied by his son, Nikolay Lukashenko. Six-year-old Nikolay Lukashenko, who had come off the plane with his father, was standing with security guards patiently waiting for his dad to leave the hotel reception room. Then, together with his father, he got into an official car and left the airport.”
The Turkish president made a special visit from Ankara in order to have dinner with the Belarusian leader. The website of the president of Turkey reported: “President Abdullah Gul had dinner with Aleksandr Lukashenko in the Tarabya Kiosk residence. After dinner, Gul left Istanbul for Ankara.”
The residence of Patriarch of Constantinople Varfolomey is situated in Istanbul. Lukashenko met with him on the following day.
“The head of the Belarusian state and the patriarch discussed the relationship between the church and society,” Lukashenko’s office stated. “Lukashenko in great detail reported on the development of relations between the government and the Orthodox church in our country. The president spoke about the interfaith situation in Belarus as well as the uniqueness and beauty of the Belarusian nature.”
On October 3, several Greek television channels (Antenna, ALTER and Studio NET, a Greek state-sponsored TV channel) reported that the possible topic of discussion with Varfolomey was the possibility of making the Belarusian Orthodox Church autocephalous.
Gazeta.Ru’s source in the circle of the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church Metropolitan, Philaret of Minsk and Slutsk, confirmed that the question of autocephaly was being discussed in Istanbul.
According to the source, Belarusian autocephaly, which assumes a withdrawal of the Belarusian exarchate from the power of the Moscow Patriarchate, is “Lukashenko’s political project.” Belarusian Metropolitan Philaret, after the death of Aleksey II, was one of the three candidates for the post of patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia, but lost to Kirill, who was supported by the current president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, noted the source.
On October 4, Sergey Shiptenko, an expert with the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the president of Belarus, which is linked to Lukashenko’s presidential administration, made a statement indirectly confirming the talks.
“The patriarch of Constantinople has an ambiguous reputation in the Orthodox world,” he told Imperiya.by. “He is known for supporting various breakaway groups and the autocephaly of Orthodox churches across the globe. In particular, groups of Ukrainian and Belarusian autocephaly churches from the US have transferred under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. The Moscow patriarch is hardly thrilled about the visit, but he cannot stop the head of Belarus from meeting anyone. It is possible that the question of autocephaly of the Belarusian Church was discussed, but the issue can only be clarified by the interlocutors themselves.”
Immediately – on October 6 – Shiptenko was fired from the academy. The reason was formal: the department lecturer, who was on maternity leave and was in the meantime replaced by Shiptenko, returned.
According to a source from the academy, the woman who had promptly returned from her maternity leave prior to that had a “preventative talk in the rector’s office.” No grievances were expressed toward Shiptenko by the administration of the academy, or the leadership of the Department of Ideology and Political Sciences, where he worked for the last four years.
The presidential administration of Belarus and the Belarusian exarchate had not confirmed talks with Patriarch Varfolomey regarding autocephaly to Gazeta.Ru.
Steps toward separating his country from the ROC were made by the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, says Viktor Demidov, a political observer in Minsk. Yushchenko had also met with the patriarch of Constantinople and spoke in support of “deepening and expanding the interchurch dialogue with the goal to overcome inter-Orthodox controversy and create a single Orthodox Church,” said the expert.
The strange meeting with Varfolomey is a PR act to have an effect on Moscow, said Natalia Vasilevich, a religious expert and head of the Belarusian Orthodox Youth Brotherhood Minsk. He will not dare to actually take a step toward autocephaly, and Varfolomey will not agree to support Minsk, Vasilevich said.
“This corresponds to the current conflict with Russia. Lukashenko knows that the ROC has its own position, and the question of autocephaly is a question concerning a competition with the Constantinople Patriarchate – questions that are quite painful for the ROC. And the fact that in describing the visit the presidential website is referring to the Constantinople Patriarchate as the first, most respectful and one that has the most important position in the Orthodox world shows that Lukashenko is hinting to Moscow,” Vasilevich added.
Lukashenko is showing that if the Moscow Patriarchate does not behave the way that the president of Belarus wants, he will interfere in church affairs until the autocephalous status is reached,” said the expert.
Lukashenko’s 2009 visit to the pope in Rome was also aimed at teasing Moscow, recalled Vasilevich.
“I doubt that, from knowing the Philaret personally, he will agree to become the head of the Belarusian autocephaly,” said Petr Martsev, publisher of the Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta (Belarusian Business Newspaper).
The Moscow Patriarchate issued no statement regarding Lukashenko’s visit to Istanbul, said the press secretary of the primate of the ROC, Father Vladimir Vigilyansky.
“If autocephalous sentiments and conversations are indeed ongoing among a part of the population and clergy of Ukraine, then in Belarus such sentiments simply do not exist,” said the representative of the ROC. “Therefore, Lukashenko should be guided by the opinion of the believers.”
Read the article on the newspaper's website (in Russian)