Russia’s Antigay Law Colors Sochi Olympics

Gay activists hold rainbow flags as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis´ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. A few dozen gay activists peacefully protested at Russia’s restrictive laws against “homosexual propaganda” as the Olympic flame made its way through central Athens ahead of its handover to the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

Ukraine hopes to sign a landmark association and free trade accord with the European Union during a November summit in Vilnius. Russia has responded by imposing detailed customs inspections on Ukrainian products over the summer and spreading those to Lithuanian goods three weeks ago. The trade row prompted Lithuania to warn Moscow this month that it risked souring ties with the 28-nation bloc if such checks continued. Lithuania also pointed out that it could — but would not — impose the same sanctions on goods travelling over its territory to and from Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad. The veiled warning outraged Russian officials, who on Saturday vowed to ban some Lithuanian dairy imports effective Monday. “There is every likelihood that Russia will begin limiting the admission of individual groups of dairy products on October 7,” news agencies quoted Russia’s public health inspector Gennady Onishchenko as saying. “At the start of next week, we will launch a series of measures aimed at halting the admission… of Lithuanian products that do not meet Russian legal requirements aimed at protecting consumer rights.” ITAR-TASS said Russia has already imposed some import restrictions on Lithuania’s top cheese producer Pieno Zvaigzdes. Russia first warned it may ban Lithuanian dairy imports on Wednesday due to “sanitary and epidemiological risks”. Tests on Lithuanian food products had “yielded unsatisfactory results”, Onishchenko said at the time. The dairy industry, which is responsible for about one-fifth of Lithuania’s agricultural production, is a vital source of export revenue. Moscow’s restrictions would be especially painful because the Russian market accounts for about 85 percent of Lithuania’s total dairy exports.

“I want to make it very clear that we have not asked our athletes not to speak up,” said Scott Blackmun, the USOC’s CEO. That became apparent when top American contenders like figure skater Ashley Wagner and, most notably, skier Bode Miller proved far more outspoken than the USOC. “It’s absolutely embarrassing that there are countries and people who are that intolerant and that ignorant,” said Miller, the veteran Alpine skier who has won five Olympic medals. “My main emotion when I hear and deal with situations like that is embarrassment. As a human being, I think it’s embarrassing.” Wagner, a two-time U.S. champion whose sport has a relatively long tradition of attracting gay competitors and fans, was visibly less comfortable and less direct. “I have gay family members, and I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community,” she began. “I’m so nervous to talk about this. But I have a firm stance that we should all have equal rights. At the same time, it is not my place to go into Russia and tell them how to run their country.” But more typical among the assembled Americans were figure skaters Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek, the defending gold medalist, both of whom tried to sidestep the questions. “It’s a very polarized issue,” Abbott said. “There’s no way to answer this question properly without offending somebody. That’s why we all feel we are walking on eggshells. .

Russia Stocks Rise on China Outlook as Uralkali Advances

Uralkali said today potassium chloride output rose to 2.7 million tons from 2.6 million tons a year earlier. The shares have slumped 28 percent this year, compared with a drop of about 1 percent for the Micex. The benchmark stock index earlier swung between gains and losses as the U.S. governments partial shutdown entered its third day. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to break their impasse over the budget in face-to-face talks late yesterday. A shutdown lasting one week would probably shave 0.1 percentage points from economic growth, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey. The cost would accelerate if the closing persists. Stake Sale Polymetal International Plc fell 2.7 percent to 324.80 rubles in the fifth day of declines and OAO Alrosa, the worlds largest diamond miner, declined 0.5 percent to 38.60 rubles. The company surged 7 percent yesterday after saying Russia and the Republic of Yakutia, in the countrys far east, would sell a combined 14 percent stake. Alrosa said it will also sell about 2 percent of treasury stock, with proceeds used to reduce debt. TCS Group Holding Plc, the owners of Tinkoff Credit Systems Bank, announced plans for a $750 million initial public offering in London this quarter, set to become the first Russian company to sell shares in the city this year. TCS is poised to sell between $150 million and $200 million in the form of global depositary receipts, the Russian consumer lender said today. Tinkoffs IPO will trigger a lot of global investor interest, more than Alrosa, Kapitals Bit-Avragim said. This business is closer to the consumer sector, unlike mining. Ten-day price swings on the Micex declined to 11.915.

Soccer-Russia says FIFA investigator Garcia unwelcome

Garcia is stepping up his inquiry into voting procedures for the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups. He plans to visit every country directly involved in the voting for the finals awarded to Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022. But Garcia, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, is on a blacklist Moscow issued in June after Washington named 18 Russians barred from the United States for alleged involvement in lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death or other gross rights abuses. Garcia is barred from Russia because of his role in the prosecution of Viktor Bout, a Russian who was long wanted by U.S. authorities on suspicion of arms trafficking and is now serving a 25-year prison term in the United States. Russia’s “Guantanamo List” includes Americans it accuses of involved in torture at prisons and those involved in what it says have been the unfair, politically motivated arrests of Bout and other Russians by U.S. authorities. “Let there be no doubt: We intend to react firmly to unfriendly attacks and unceremonious infringements on the rights of Russian citizens,” the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. “Anyone who is involved in such things should think hard.” The ministry said the United States would be to blame for any consequences of Garcia’s inability to enter Russia. “Questions arising in connection with visa blacklists should be addressed to the initiators and executors of the extraterritorial and discriminatory ‘Magnitsky Act’, which contradicts norms of international law,” it said.