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Putin signs Russia into World Trade Organization

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President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed the bill ratifying Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organization after 18 years of often acrimonious negotiations, the Kremlin press office said.

Economists have long argued that Russia needed to join the WTO as it was the only major economy outside the body — following China’s membership in 2001 — and the government hopes accession will stimulate growth.

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The measure making Russia the 156th WTO member will become law within 30 days, after the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved it on July 10 and the upper house, the Federation Council, on Wednesday.

But the membership has also been controversial, with some medium-sized firms expressing concern they will be put out of business by being unable to compete against imports made cheaper by a reduction in customs tariffs.

The reduction of the tariffs was a key condition for Russia entering the WTO and they will fall from a current average level of 9.5 percent to 7.4 percent in 2013, 6.9 percent in 2014 and 6.0 percent in 2015.

According to the World Bank, WTO entry will bring a boost worth 3.3 percent of Russian GDP — or $49 billion — in the first three years after joining. Over 10 years, the gain will be worth 11 percent of GDP, it says.

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But Senator Sergei Lisovsky warned this week that Russia was wholly unprepared to compete without trade protection against other world economies which were more used to competition and were considerably less corrupt.

Russia’s journey to joining the WTO started back in 1993 but was marked by frequent rows with Western partners, objections by its foes and not least a sometimes lukewarm attitude on the part of the Russian leadership.

But Putin is now openly championing modernisation of the economy to wean the country off dependence on oil and gas exports and officials have warned progress is not possible without WTO membership.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘He wasn’t that bad then’: Former Trump Org insider recalls when Trump shifted to become ‘a joke’ and ‘a cartoon’

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Former Trump Organization insider Barbara Res recalled a time she worked with President Donald Trump when he "wasn't that bad."

MSNBC host Ari Melber began the segment by calling Trump a "snowflake" for getting mad with Denmark for calling his idea of purchasing Greenland "absurd."

"Let's just deal with this real quick. We know it's how he operates: Attack, troll, mock, bully and indignantly complain other people are bullying him," Melber noted. He then welcomed Res to discuss what is happening in Trump's brain.

He asked Res if anything could become an important issue to Trump if it wounds him enough. "Is he a snowflake?"

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Rudy Giuliani sneaked off to meet Ukrainian officials in Madrid about Biden conspiracy theories: report

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On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani secretly traveled to Madrid in recent weeks to meet with a top aide of new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to go fishing for dirt on Democrats.

One of the key focuses of Giuliani's phone calls and in-person meetings was to try to dig up evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden acted improperly to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating an energy company his son was invested in — which has been broadly discredited as conspiracy theories. He also tried to hunt for proof that Ukrainian officials colluded with Democrats to hurt Trump's campaign in 2016, a claim which is not supported by evidence.

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At least eight prison officials knew Epstein wasn’t supposed to be left alone — but they did it anyway: report

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On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that at least eight staffers at the Bureau of Prisons were aware that arrested hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein could be a risk to himself if left unsupervised — raising further questions about why exactly guards left him to his own devices on the night that he allegedly hanged himself.

Investigators reportedly believe that at least some of these officials were aware that he had been left alone. It is unclear why nobody intervened, and the Justice Department is continuing with its investigation. Attorney General William Barr recently ordered the removal of the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons.

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