World Bulletin/News Desk
Western sanctions will galvanise Russia into using the rouble as a currency for international trade, the country's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published on Saturday.
"Trading for roubles - this is a definite priority," Medvedev said. "This, in fact, should ultimately move the rouble from the cohort of freely convertible currencies into the ranks of reserve currencies."
He was speaking in an interview recorded for the television programme "Vesti on Saturday with Sergey Brilev", shown on the Rossiya channel and published on the government's website.
In recent weeks officials have said the government is considering making it obligatory for state-owned companies to receive payment for key exports in roubles, rather than in dollars as at present.
EU leaders meet next week to discuss steps that could be taken to target broader sectors of the Russian economy if Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday is disrupted. The United States has also threatened sanctions that could target broad sectors such as energy, banking and mining.
Russia has long aspired to boosting the international status of the rouble, hoping that it will eventually become a currency widely held in governments' foreign exchange reserves, similar to the dollar and euro.
Medvedev referred to such reserve currencies as "the top league".
"Of course, the more we sell, for example, our products, including oil, gas, machine-building, defence products for roubles, the more we will encourage such a quality for our currency."
Commenting on the impact of Western sanctions more broadly, Medvedev played down their immediate negative consequences.
"At present the effect of sanctions on the Russian economy is absolutely minimal, if you can talk about any effect at all," he said.
His assessment contrasts with that of many analysts, who say the sanctions - and in particular the threat of further sanctions - have encouraged massive capital outflows, leading to slumping investment and stagnant economic growth.
Medvedev's comments also contrast with those of President Vladmir Putin, who has said Western sanctions are having a real impact on Russian business and limiting their access to funding.
So far Western sanctions have largely targeted individual officials, as well as select companies linked either to Crimea or to President Vladimir Putin's close personal associates.
Medvedev admitted that sectoral sanctions could be very damaging. "This means that a whole range of export possibilities of Russia will be threatened," he said.
The European Commission's powerful competition regulator on Tuesday hit Google with the biggest fine ever against a company for abuse of a dominant market position.
Vatican experts said Zerbo, 74, was recovering from an illness but had managed to make the trip to the Vatican to be appointed cardinal along with four others by Pope Francis on Wednesday.
Monday's hearing saw sentence handed down to Folly Satchivi as well as to another student involved in this month's demonstrations, Marius Amagbegnon.
"On Monday, we rescued about 5,000 people from four large boats, one smaller one and 18 rubber dinghies," a spokesman said.
Speaking to reporters on a military plane late Monday as he headed for meetings in Europe, Mattis said the US-led coalition was determined to keep a strict focus on fighting the ISIL group.
"Part of my political life is coming to an end. I am leaving the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Party is leaving me," the 54-year-old told RTL radio.
His comments came as rival Cypriot leaders were headed to Switzerland for a make-or-break summit aiming to seal a long-elusive peace deal for their divided island.
If the feuding main parties cannot agree to form a semi-autonomous government in Belfast by 4:00pm (1500 GMT) Thursday, then the province will be fully governed from London.
With 96 percent of polling stations tallied, the Socialists had grabbed 49 percent of the vote cast in Sunday's election. Their main rivals in the centre-right Democratic Party took less than 30 percent.
"The deceased was a serviceman in the armed forces," ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko said at a briefing.
"As from tomorrow (Tuesday), 206 of my clients are claiming compensation of 22,000 euros each," their lawyer told Dutch late night talk show Jinek on Monday.
The bribery charge filed by Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot swept Temer into the forefront of a giant graft scandal that has engulfed Latin America's biggest country over the last three years.
Here are five key elements of the peace accord that the sides say will end Latin America's oldest civil conflict.
No causalities reported from Israeli shelling on Hamas target in Gaza Strip
Nationals of 6 Muslim-majority nations without 'bona fide relationship' with U.S. person or group banned until ruling