23 November 2009
Heavily indebted carmaker AvtoVAZ appointed Sergei Kogogin, head of truck maker KamAZ, to its board of directors, increasing the prospect for the creation of a state-controlled autos giant.
Kogogin agreed earlier this year to head a proposed holding company for government stakes in both KamAZ and AvtoVAZ, controlled by Russian Technologies — a huge state conglomerate with interests in aviation and defense as well as autos.
The move is seen as part of a long-term Russian effort to revive the country’s embattled car industry, struggling under falling demand, high debt, outdated technology and a bloated work force.
“This appointment will be connected to Russian Technologies’ plans to create an autos holding company for its stakes in these companies,” VTB analyst Vladimir Bespalov said.
“A new company may make it easier to secure new loans for AvtoVAZ, which is finding it extremely difficult to attract money. Other stakes could be used as collateral,” he added.
AvtoVAZ, which also said Friday that car sales would rise 11 percent in 2010, needs to restructure a $2 billion debt pile and reverse heavy losses to continue as a going concern.
State development bank Vneshekonombank said it was prepared to finance an investment program in AvtoVAZ after its debt restructuring is completed.
Russian Technologies has a 37.8 percent holding in KamAZ, but sources said earlier this year that it was talking to Moscow investment bank Troika Dialog about acquiring its 13 percent stake in the truck maker.
It also has a 25 percent stake in AvtoVAZ.
Germany’s Daimler, a 10 percent stakeholder in KamAZ, has first refusal on the Troika stake, but the head of its trucks division said last month it was happy with the level of the stake for the foreseeable future.
Russian plans to shake up the industry were dealt a blow earlier this month when General Motors decided not to sell its European arm to a consortium including Russian lender Sberbank.
The Moscow Times: GM Russia Plant Fires Head of Union
23 November 2009
The management of General Motors’ St. Petersburg plant fired two workers for carrying out a slowdown strike — union leader Yevgeny Ivanov and member Olga Shafikova.
Ivanov received his pink slip on Friday, the day after the union met with the management of the plant and was denied all of its requests, Ivanov said. Shafikova found out about her layoff the day before, when she failed a routine medical checkup, he said, adding that the management was happy with her health the year before.
Shafikova declined to comment.
According to his discharge documents, Ivanov was fired for “absence from work for more than four hours without a legitimate excuse.”
Ivanov said he requested on Oct. 21 that the management give him safety instructions for working with load-lifting machinery and copies of documents certifying that he took the safety lessons and passed examinations permitting him to work.
“After a day, they didn’t show me the documents, and throughout this time I was at work but wasn’t working, because I consider the layoff illegal, which I will prove in court,” he said.
“We will get them to restore those laid off to their jobs and are going to appeal to the prosecutor’s office with a complaint,” said Stanislav Tokarev, Ivanov’s deputy.
GM spokesman Sergei Lepnukhov confirmed that Ivanov was laid off, but declined to reveal the reasons for his firing. “If an employee thinks that his rights are violated then he can appeal to the courts,” he said.
“If in the course of a medical checkup a worker is found to be unfit to carry out his duties, he is offered another position if there is one. At the moment, there are no open positions at the factory,” factory representative Yulia Boicharova said.
Ivanov said the layoffs were a response to union activity. Two weeks ago, the workers began a “slowdown strike,” in which production, according to Ivanov, was cut 30 percent, from 90 to 60 automobiles per day.
Workers want a guaranteed yearly raise of 8 percent, a 40-hour work week and two weeks of discretionary vacation instead of one week.
A union leader cannot be fired for fulfilling his union responsibilities during work time, but there should be some evidence confirming Ivanov’s rightness, said Natalya Neverovskaya, a partner at Unicomlegal. She added that courts often side with workers in order to avoid a dominance of unemployment.
WND ON THE AIR
WND.com: Aaron Klein to debate pro-Iran commentator
Program airs live on globally broadcast Russian television
Posted: November 23, 2009
12:04 am Eastern
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein will debate a commentator from Iran today live on Russia's all-news network.
The debate will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern on Russia Today, a globally broadcast English-language news channel from Russia and the first all-digital Russian television network.
Just yesterday, Iranian media reported the country began large-scale air defense war drills aimed at "protecting" the country's nuclear facilities from attacks.
One day before, a senior Iranian cleric warned on the Islamic Republic will strike Tel Aviv if attacked.
"If the enemy should want to test its bad luck in Iran, before the dust from its missiles settles in this country, Iran's ballistic missiles would land in the heart of Tel Aviv," said cleric Mojtaba Zolnour, the IRNA news agency reported.
Itar-Tass: First ever road connecting Russia’s west to east to be ready in 2010 – Ivanov
MOSCOW, November 22 (Itar-Tass) -- The first ever road to connect Russia’s west with the east will be built in 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.
“We plan to build about 6,000 kilometers of federal roads next year. The construction of the Chita-Khabarovsk road started in 1967, with approval of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee. That road, of 2,000 kilometers, will be ready next year. For the first time in the history of the Russian empire, the Soviet Union and modern Russia we will have a road stretching out from the west to the east,” Ivanov said.
Seventeen bridges and one supplementary bridge across the Oka River in Murom will be commissioned this year, Ivanov said.
“The construction of the majority of these bridges started in the Soviet period. The projects were abandoned in the 1990s. Vladimir Putin made the political decision to finish the projects in 2004, and the funding began in 2005. These are huge bridges. The last of them will be commissioned in Ulyanovsk next week. That bridge, of 24 kilometers, had been under construction since 1987. There was a ten-year pause in the project,” Ivanov said.
He promised to build any new bridges in Russia within 18-24 months. “The rapid construction will reduce project costs. It is very unprofitable to drag out construction projects. We intend to commission about 6,000 meters of bridges on federal roads next year. The bridge to the Russky Island will be the longest cable stayed bridge in the world, and the Ulyanovsk bridge will be the longest in Europe. It is not that Russia wants to beat a record. It is just that this country is vast, and our rivers are wide,” he said.
The construction of two toll roads will begin next year, Ivanov said. “It is possible to collect money wherever traffic is very busy, so we will organize concessions and build toll bridges. The toll will be five or six times smaller than in Europe, about 5 rubles per kilometer [the current exchange rate is 28.85 rubles to the dollar],” Ivanov said.
Xinhua: First Russian brigade with Iskander missiles to be formed in 2010
MOSCOW, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Russian armed forces will form its first brigade fully equipped with short-range Iskander missile systems, said Russian Missile Forces and Artillery Commander Sergei Bogatinov here Saturday.
"We will form the first missile brigade armed with 12 Iskander missile systems by the end of 2010," Bogatinov told Echo Moskvy radio.
"Such a brigade will be formed by the end of 2010, and then we will consistently form one more missile brigade each year," he added.
Five Iskander missile systems will be bought next year, he said.
A battalion armed with Iskander missile systems has already been set up in the Russian armed forces. It has successfully conducted exercises at the Kapustin Yar, a Russian rocket launch and development site, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 7, said Bogatinov.
The high-precision tactical Iskander missile systems with a range between 300 to 500 kilometers are to replace the 120-kilometer Tochka missile system, he said.
Itar-Tass: French helicopter carrier to call in St Petersburg
St PETERSBURG, November 23 (Itar-Tass) – French helicopter carrier Mistral, which the Russian Navy has taken an interest in as a possible object of purchasing, is due to make a technical visit to St Petersburg Monday.
Spokespeople for the French embassy in Russia told Itar-Tass the ship will moor to the Lieutenant Schmidt embankment or to the wharfs of the Maritime Fa·ade – the city’s new commercial port being built on Vassilyevsky Island. The site of mooring will depend on the whether.
The time of arrival will depend on the speed at which Mistral is able to proceed through a navigable pass near Kronstadt.
“The problem is the Mistral is a big enough and heavy ship and the weather is quite unstable and this may complicate the passage along a narrow corridor,” an embassy source said.
During its stay St Petersburg, Russian Navy and shipbuilding industry experts will be able to examine the ship and to assess its characteristics.
The Mistral, a universal helicopter carrier, has a water displacement of 21 tons, the maximum length of 210 meters, the speed of over 18 knots, and the maximum distance of up to 20,000 nautical miles.
The ship has a standard crew of 160 members but it can host aboard an additional 450 people or even 900 people for a brief period of time.
The Mistral’s cargo deck has room for up to 40 tanks or 70 cars.
Russian Navy officials showed interest in the characteristics of the helicopter carrier at an international naval show in St Petersburg in June. Two months later, sources at the Navy’s Main Staff confirmed that ship might be purchased for the Russian naval forces.
Naval experts believe the Mistral can be used for peacekeeping and rescue operations.