The exposure is important, too. There is no shortage of options in Europe, from Russia, which entered Eurobasket in turmoil (its coach quit a month before event began) and didn’t have its best players, to Greece to Turkey to Italy. Russia seems the most likely of those countries to pay big dollars for inclusion, and it won silver in London last summer. Oddly, Nigeria, which finished a disappointing seventh at Afrobasket, is interested in playing in the World Cup. However, can it come up with the money, and does FIBA want a team which finished so low in Africa, playing in the World Cup? Nigeria played in the 2012 London Olympics and finished 10th with just one victory. Either way, the USA, which won the 2010 world championship and gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, will enter as the favorite. The USA will learn its opponents for group play at the World Cup draw Feb. 8 in Barcelona. USA Basketball, which held a mini-camp in Las Vegas in July, will look more like the 2010 world championship team than the 2012 Olympic team with Kevin Durant and Kevin Love promising to play if healthy and Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose locks to make the team if they want to play. Both have expressed interest, and all four played in Turkey in 2010. That leaves eight spots, and Paul George and Kyrie Irving are almost guaranteed to make the team. That leaves six spots, and at the point, the USA needs to look at big men, versatile and big wings and maybe another two-way guard. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said he, along with Coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Jim Boeheim, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams, will name a preliminary roster of about 25-28 players in late January, early February. That list will be pared to about 18-20 for another mini-camp after the NBA season, and a 12-man roster will be named just before the World Cup begins Aug.

Russia Urged by IMF to Avoid Stimulus as Growth Forecast Lowered

Increased infrastructure outlays have to be offset by cuts in other expenditure to rebuild fiscal buffers and save oil revenue, the Washington-based fund said in a statement after completing the Article IV consultation of Russias economy. It recommended that Bank Rossii keep interest rates on hold with a tightening bias. The comments feed into a government debate over how to steer the $2 trillion economy out of its sharpest slowdown since 2009, with the central bank spurning calls by senior officials for lower borrowing costs by holding its main lending rates for a year. The IMF predicts Russias gross domestic product will grow 1.5 percent this year and 3 percent in 2014, versus July projections of 2.5 percent and 3.3 percent. The near-term outlook is for moderate growth and inflation at the upper end of the target range of the central bank, the IMF said. To protect growth-enhancing investment spending, adjustment efforts should primarily focus on rebalancing the mix of spending and enhancing its efficiency, and pursuing structural reforms, in particular pension reform. The ruble depreciated 0.4 percent against the dollar to 31.9290 as of 4:31 p.m. in Moscow. The Micex Index of 50 stocks retreated 0.5 percent to 1,460.85. Growth, Privatization Slowing economic growth and worsening expectations for proceeds from state asset sales forced the government last week to widen its budget deficit forecasts through 2015 even as public salaries are frozen for next year. Spending in areas excluding pensions, welfare benefits and debt servicing will be cut by as much as 5 percent and dividends from state-owned companies are set to rise from 2015, according to the draft plan. Bank Rossii Chairman Elvira Nabiullina , whos overseeing the monetary authoritys planned shift to inflation targeting by 2015, last week raised the possibility of increasing interest rates because of government plans to exempt households from a tariff freeze, as she seeks to reduce inflation to 4.5 percent. Consumer-price growth, which remained at 6.5 percent from a year earlier in August, has exceeded the top end of the central banks target range of 5 percent to 6 percent for 12 months. Russias general government budget deficit, the first in three years, may amount to 0.6 percent of GDP this year and 0.7 percent in 2014, the IMF estimates. Year-end inflation may slow to 6.2 percent this year from 6.6 percent in 2012, and decelerate to 5.3 percent in 2014, it said.

Russia slowdown reflects structural weaknesses

24, 2013: Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” is escorted by a Russian coast guard boat, in Kola Bay at the military base Severomorsk on the Kola peninsula in Russia, at dawn. Russia has filed piracy charges against Greenpeace activists who tried to board an offshore drilling platform in the Arctic owned by state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom.AP MURMANSK, Russia Russian investigators said Tuesday that they will file piracy charges against Greenpeace activists who tried to climb onto an offshore drilling platform in the Arctic owned by the state-controlled gas company Gazprom. The activists are on a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, that was seized last week by the Russian Coast Guard and towed Tuesday into a port near Murmansk. It was unclear how many of the 30 activists from 18 countries face piracy charges, which carry a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of 500,000 rubles (about $15,500). The Investigative Committee, Russia’s federal investigative agency, said it would question all those who participated in the protest and detain the “more active” among them. Two activists tried to climb onto the Prirazlomnaya platform on Thursday and others assisted from small inflatable boats. The Greenpeace protest was aimed at calling attention to the environmental risks of drilling for oil in Arctic waters. “When a foreign vessel full of electronic technical equipment of unknown purpose and a group of people calling themselves members of an environmental rights organization try nothing less than to take a drilling platform by storm, logical doubts arise about their intentions,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement. He said the activists posed a danger to the work of the oil platform. “Such activities not only infringe on the sovereignty of a state, but might pose a threat to the environmental security of the whole region,” Markin said. Greenpeace insists that Russia had no right under international law to board its ship. One activist told The Associated Press that the Coast Guard officers hit and kicked some activists when they stormed the vessel.

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(File photo) x Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing in the main building of Foreign Ministry in Moscow. (File photo) VOA News September 24, 2013 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says United Nations chemical weapons investigators are expected to return to Syria on Wednesday. The U.N. team led by Ake Sellstrom completed a two-week probe in Syria earlier this month, but focused largely on a deadly attack in the Damascus suburbs. Their original mandate was to investigate three earlier attacks, including one in March outside of Aleppo that the Syrian government and rebel fighters blamed on each other. The inspectors have been tasked with determining whether chemical weapons have been used, but not to assign blame. The attack outside Damascus sparked international condemnation and led to a plan to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. The U.N. Security Council has been discussing a resolution to enforce that plan, and Ryabkov said Tuesday that Russia is hopeful an agreement will be reached this week. Russia and China have opposed a push by the United States, Britain and France to include the threat of military intervention if Syria failed to give up its chemical arsenal. Meanwhile, aid groups are urging world leaders meeting at the United Nations this week to give more aid to Syrian refugees, saying their funding appeals are falling short. A coalition of 14 humanitarian organizations issued a statement in New York Monday saying many Syrian refugees are being left to fend for themselves, without adequate food, shelter and medicine. They say an estimated 70 percent of Syria’s refugees are moving into villages and cities rather than formal camps.

Russia to file piracy charges against Greenpeace activists for anti-drilling protest in Arctic

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One shouldnt exaggerate the possibilities for the central bank to increase economic growth, the US-educated economist told the Reuters Russia Investment Summit. The central bank has left its main lending rates unchanged for the past year, ignoring calls to cut them even though the economy has slowed dramatically. Economic growth is expected to be less than 2 percent this year, well below initial forecasts. Yudayeva said the bank was not to blame for the slowdown. The fall in growth were seeing most probably has a structural character, Yudayeva said. In essence, all the unused capacities for economic growth have been exhausted, she added. We need investment-led growth for changing the economic structure, and for any economy thats a definite challenge. She estimated that Russias potential economic growth rate was now 2-2.5 percent well down from the four per cent growth seen over recent years, and of around seven percent before the 2008-9 financial crisis. Yudayeva said that slowing growth potential is visible in all the BRIC economies Brazil, Russia, India and China suggesting that this reflects a global economic rebalancing. In Russias case, it also reflects problems such as weak institutional development and over-reliance on natural resources, she added. High expectations Yudayeva said that the biggest contribution the central bank could make to Russias economic development would be to bring down inflation which in turn meant bearing down on stubbornly high expectations of inflation among ordinary Russians. For now the population expects fairly high inflation, she said, referring to research the central bank has commissioned. Next year the central bank aims to bring inflation down to 4.5 per cent, from above six per cent at present. The 2014 target may be raised as a result of a recent government decision to increase some utility prices, but Yudayeva said the central bank was still examining the impact of this decision. She said that inflation ought to fall further before the central bank would be in a position to use active monetary policy as a tool for boosting a sluggish economy. If the central bank can really reduce inflation to three-four per cent, and reduce inflation expectations, then well be able really to pursue a counter-cyclical policy.