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Western Food Embargo Helps Russian Exports: Agriculture Minister

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Russia’s ban on western food imports facilitates the build-up of export-oriented agriculture in the country, the minister of agriculture Dmitry Patrushev said on Thursday, according to Dairy News.

“While we said earlier that we had to import a portion of products, the situation has changed by now – we are building up export-oriented agriculture. We say it is actually needed to double agricultural products export and bring it to $45 by $45 billion. Certainly, it would be impossible if there were no conditions created for us by our Western partners when they essentially prompted us to develop this area,” Patrushev said.

According to the minister, the Russian agricultural sector demonstrated “very serious results” during the period of counter-sanctions. 

“We achieved values indicated in the Food Security Doctrine almost for all products, Patrushev said. Quite a few indicators remain where Russia has not yet managed to deliver indicators set in the doctrine, including vegetables and milk,” he added.

In March 2014, the European Union and a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Iceland, began to impose sanctions against Russia over the situation in Ukraine.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on imposing separate special economic measures ensuring security for the Russian Federation on August 6, 2014. On the following day, the government imposed restrictions on imports of certain goods from the U.S., the European Union, Norway, Australia and Canada based on that document. 

This June, EU countries extended the anti-Russia measures for another six months, while Putin signed a decree extending the Russian counter-measures for another year.

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Court in Gibraltar Extends Iranian Tanker’s Detention for 30 Days

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A court in Gibraltar has extended the detention of an Iranian oil tanker for 30 days, AFP reported, citing Gibraltar’s attorney general. According to the agency, the order authorising the detention of the tanker can be extended for up to 90 days.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament, as quoted by AFP.

On 4 July, the supertanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicions of it carrying oil to Syria for refinement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt discussed the issue earlier this week, with Mr Zarif urging London to release the tanker. He also stressed that Tehran would continue its oil exports under any circumstances. Mr Hunt, for his part, said that the Grace 1 would be released once Iran gives guarantees about its destination.

The tanker’s four crew members were freed on bail earlier this month after being questioned.

The situation in the Gulf has remained tense since the US tightened the sanctions it reimposed on the Iranian oil sector after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal.

A series of incidents, including attacks on oil tankers, took place in the Gulf of Oman in May and June. Washington has blamed the attacks on Tehran, but the latter has denied all the accusations.

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Russia in Confidential Consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 Crash

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Russia is having confidential consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 flight that was downed over Donbass in July 2014, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Friday.

“Such consultations are underway, but we agreed that the process will have a confidential character,” the diplomat said.

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Links Between Russia and EU’s Right-Wing Parties Cause for Concern, Says Merkel

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Relations between Moscow and EU’s right-wing political parties are a cause for concern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during a press conference in Berlin.

“Some questions arise here,” she stated. “We have constantly monitored the very strong support that right-leaning parties have received from Russia in one way or the other.” “This is a cause for concern,” Merkel stressed.

The German chancellor also mentioned the scandal regarding the alleged financing of Italy’s Lega party by Russia, noting that the Italian side must investigate the allegations in detail.

Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the US BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption.

The main suspect in the case is one of the associates of Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, head of th-e Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini. According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of an alleged conversation with Russian entrepreneurs with ties to the Kremlin, during which a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could have received the deal dividends amounting to $65 mln.

Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.

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