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As Russia looks ahead to next autumn's key parliamentary elections, a national economic body has been resurrected in an attempt to kickstart sluggish growth, Moscow daily Vedomosti reports Thursday.

After two years of stasis, Russia's Economic Council Presidium has been revived in order to promote the countrys' economic growth, as well as to look for ways to substitute foreign goods that have been banned from import because of ongoing sanctions against Western countries.

Economics no doubt will be at the heart of September's elections for the Duma. "Potential candidates must choose between their will to enact change and their desire not to do anything," political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov tells the newspaper.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin was engaged in a media blitz on Thursday, answering the nation's most burning questions during a live "Presidential Hotline." Some two million inquiries have been submitted so far, ranging from concerns about Putin's personal life to political and economic reform.

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Geopolitics

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

How to handle a nuclear armed pariah state is not a simple question.

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul

Alexander Gillespie

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

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