World Bulletin / News Desk
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Tuesday to protect the interests of strategic companies operating abroad, requiring them to obtain government permission to disclose information to foreign regulators, change contracts and sell property abroad.
The decree follows a warning by state-controlled gas export monopoly Gazprom to the European Commission that a European Union investigation of Gazprom's business in Europe touched the interests of a strategic Russian company.
"The decree establishes the obligation of a federal executive body to refuse permission to conduct the aforementioned activities if they are capable of damaging the economic interests of the Russian Federation," said the text of the decree, distributed by the Kremlin.
The decree covers foreign subsidiaries of Russian companies defined by the government as strategic.
Putin on Sunday ruled out a trade war over the European Commission's anti-trust investigation, which focused on Gazprom's policy of linking contract gas prices to oil prices, suspicions that Gazprom was hindering the free flow of gas in Europe and preventing supply diversification.
The EU announcement marks the formal launch of an investigation that began with raids of Gazprom subsidiaries in Europe a year ago.
Since then, Gazprom has made substantial price concessions in its oil-linked contracts to most of its major European customers.
Greece has already received two bailouts totalling 240 billion euros but fellow euro zone member Ireland said last week that it would have to negotiate a third programme.
The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
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With Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonize trade standards.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that Chinahas invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in Colombo.
EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic invited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks
Gazprom and Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz have accused each other of not sticking to agreements on gas supplies.
The new canal, that will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $13 billion.
A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.
The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in September after the government decided its own solutions to its fiscal crisis were failing to convince investors.
Energy union highlights bloc's attempt to seek independency from its main gas supplier - Russia.
Merkel's right-left coalition is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.
Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.
Turkish PM Davutoglu expresses Turkey's readiness to help in supplying energy to Central Europe.