Russia: Chemical Weapons Deal A Good Start, But Syria Peace Is Still Far Off

Russia Rounds Up Sochi Games Migrant Workers, Rights Group Says

Since early last month, Russian officials have rounded up the workers for alleged violations of migration or employment rules, the New York-based human rights group said today in an e-mailed statement. Many have been kept in arbitrary and inhuman conditions and some expelled from Russia, it said. Its outrageous for the migrant workers who helped to build Sochis shiny new Olympic venues to be herded into detention and deported, said Jane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia. Ilya Djous, a spokesman for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, whos in charge of Olympic preparations, said by phone that there havent been any mass violations of labor or migration rules. Russia stages the competition in February and has spent about $50 billion, making these the most expensive Winter Games . The project has included road building and a train service to connect the coastal hub to be used for the opening ceremony and ice skating events and the mountains that will host the skiing and downhill competitions. Construction workers are being exploited and cheated out of their wages, Human Rights Watch said in February. Some employers demanded 12-hour shifts with few days off, withheld passports and work permits and refused to pay promised salaries, the group said. President Vladimir Putin has sought to attract large international events, including the 2018 soccer World Cup and last years Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at ; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at More News:

Western and Arab countries who are sponsoring the fractious Syrian rebel coalition appear helpless to get any kind of consensus among their proxies, much less herd them into negotiations with the regime by mid-November, as Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed to do. “Until recently we have been relying on our Western partners, who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiations table, and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded. And I am not sure they will by mid-November,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow Tuesday. Russian experts say that if Western powers are serious about promoting a negotiated peace, they must first abandon the illusion that the growing body of jihadist-linked Syrian rebels can ever unify behind a democratic and secular program for the country. Sergei Markov, a political analyst who’s been a frequent adviser to President Vladimir Putin in the past, says there are groups of moderate rebels who could be induced to negotiate a peace settlement and political transition for Syria. But, he says, the US must first make a firm decision to exclude the jihadists as the common enemy of all, and work for a settlement between regime and moderate rebels. That’s a big leap for Washington, which still sees Assad as the main enemy and believes that the jihadist problem can be dealt with after the regime’s overthrow, Mr. Markov says. “The US and others are still backing militant Syrian oppositionists with arms and diplomatic support, even though Western public opinion more and more recognizes that these rebels are not democrats, but violent radicals aligned with Al Qaeda,” he says. “Because of this the preparations for a Geneva-2 peace conference are still not going well.” One continuing bone of contention, which drives the fundamentally opposing views of Russia and the West about the Syrian war, is the dispute over who used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, and on at least three earlier occasions. The West appears certain the Assad regime is to blame, while Russia argues that the rebels seeking to trigger US intervention on their side may be responsible .

UPDATE 4-Russia to cut stake in diamond miner Alrosa

The target valuation is between 38-44 roubles per share, said another banking source, and 40-47 roubles per share, according to a separate banking source. This would put the stake sale in a $1.4-1.8 billion range. Alrosa’s shares rose 6 percent to 38.5 roubles on Wednesday. “The asset is unique – at the moment Alrosa has no direct peers among public companies,” Barclays Capital analyst Vladimir Sergievsky said. De Beers, Alrosa’s most direct competitor, delisted in 2001 and is now 85 percent owned by Anglo. “Investors who buy Alrosa shares will get exposure to the consumer sector, which is unusual for mining companies. Demand should be good.” Analysts also point to a positive outlook for diamond prices in the longer term, with demand expected to outpace supply towards the end of this decade, as existing mines age with new deposits unlikely. The last major mine was discovered in 1997. The roadshow ahead of the sale is expected to start around Oct. 14, with the deal set to close by the end of the month. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and VTB Capital are joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the offering. Renaissance Capital is a joint bookrunner.

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