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WORLD
April 16, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Russia's economy has been hit hard by the Ukraine crisis, prompting finance officials to cut growth forecasts for this year to near zero and draining the country's hard currency reserves as investors flee an uncertain market, Kremlin officials disclosed Wednesday. In an address to the lower house of parliament, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said $63 billion had been converted from rubles to hard currencies and taken out of the country in the first quarter of this year.
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WORLD
April 12, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Russian President Vladimir Putin has massed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's eastern border, a reminder of his vow to protect ethnic Russians in the neighboring country. Using his army, however, is probably Plan B. Rather than repeating the "Crimean scenario" - invading, seizing and annexing territory - the Kremlin would prefer to keep Ukraine weak and divided by forcing a change in how it is governed, analysts say. Increasing regional autonomy at the expense of the central government would force Ukrainian authorities to constantly balance competing visions of the country to hold it together, and in effect give Moscow veto power through its influence among ethnic Russians in the east.
WORLD
April 8, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW - Heavily armed separatists held Ukrainian government buildings and hostages Tuesday as tensions increased sharply and threatened to push a dispute over treatment of the country's ethnic Russians into bloodshed. Ukrainian government officials said pro-Russia separatists had rigged explosives in a building in Luhansk and were holding hostages inside. Officials dispatched a deputy prime minister to another city, Donetsk, to try to negotiate a peaceful solution to the takeover of an administration building in that mining city.
WORLD
March 31, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday paid the highest-level Kremlin visit to Crimea since the territory was seized from Ukraine last month, and promised lavish investment and aid for the newly annexed region's 2 million residents. Medvedev led a Russian government delegation to Crimea's capital, Simferopol, and convened a Cabinet meeting at which the Russian officials proclaimed the region a special economic zone entitled to tax breaks and other incentives for investors.
WORLD
March 30, 2014 | By Paul Richter
WASHINGTON - The top U.S. and Russian diplomats agreed Sunday to work with Ukrainian government officials to ease the crisis triggered by Russia's annexation of Crimea, but remained far apart on other key points after four hours of negotiations in Paris. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the meeting constructive. Lavrov's remarks suggested that Moscow may now be more willing to work with the interim Ukrainian government, which it has previously dismissed as illegitimate.
WORLD
March 30, 2014 | By Paul Richter
WASHINGTON - The top U.S. and Russian diplomats met Sunday evening in Paris amid hopes for a diplomatic solution to the crisis over control of troubled Ukraine. As U.S. officials continued to voice concern at the massing of Russian troops on Ukraine's border, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met to trade ideas on how Ukraine should be governed following the ouster of its pro-Russian leadership. Russia formally annexed the Russian-dominated Crimean peninsula on March 21, one month after the Ukrainian opposition toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich.
WORLD
March 29, 2014 | By Paul Richter and Sergei L. Loiko
 WASHINGTON -   Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Sunday evening in Paris for discussions stemming from the crisis caused by Russia's recent annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The high-ranking diplomats will meet to discuss the U.S. response to a "working document" they have been putting together in an attempt to avert a serious confrontation,  State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The Paris session was announced after President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Friday during a phone conversation that the diplomats should meet to discuss means of de-escalating the crisis.
SPORTS
March 28, 2014 | By David Wharton
Just weeks after the conclusion of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics, a Russian blogger claims that the Olympic Park and its surrounding hotels have become a ghost town. Alexander Valov posted photographs of the area on Blog Sochi under the headline "Dead City. " The photos show what Valov said are daily scenes of empty streets and deserted residential complexes, along with untended trash and weeds growing in adjacent fields. He asserted that much of the Olympic-related construction in the area remains unfinished.  Russia spent a reported $51 billion-plus to build sports venues, hotels, roads and railways for the Sochi Games.
WORLD
March 28, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW -- A Siberian dairy plant was temporarily closed Friday after its workers had been found bathing in milk, a Russian consumer oversight agency reported. Trade House Cheeses, a dairy producer in Omsk, about 1,600 miles east of Moscow, was closed for 90 days by regional authorities for an urgent inspection after complaints resulting from photographs and a video posted by one of its employees on a Russian social network. In the photographs and video clips posted on New Year's Eve by worker Artyom Romanov, a group of undressed employees relax in a container of milk as part of their celebration.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 26, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
There was no contesting yet another Russian annexation Monday night. Rather than the supposed 93% majority in Crimea that voted to succeed from Ukraine a week earlier, what appeared to be 100% of the audience at Walt Disney Concert Hall vociferously cheered in favor of Evgeny Kissin Russianizing Schubert. The occasion was a fabulous, if highly personal, performance by the Russian pianist of Schubert's big, outgoing Sonata in D Major, D. 850. That was followed by the most commanding Scriabin playing I've ever heard accorded the Russian mystic composer in concert.
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