Today in Russian Business – March 22, 2012

Vladimir Putin met with the President of Kyrgyzstan yesterday to discuss the latter’s possible entry into the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia customs union.  The Skolkovo center is searching for the best new energy-efficient technologies for housing and utilities.  Russian Space Systems published an open letter calling for the resignation of space agency head Vladimir Popovkin, accusing him of ‘legal nihilism’.  Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s anticipates that 83% of Russia’s current governors will be replaced this year, due to 17 governors with expiring terms, dwindling support for United Russia, and new direct election procedures.  Finance Minister Anton Siluanov supports a proposal to increase fivefold the minimum capital requirement for banks after 2015 to spur consolidation.  Vladimir Putin’s main preoccupation during his new six-year term could be the ‘tectonic shift in the economy,’ suggests the FT, anticipating that imports will soon outweigh energy exports, taking trade surpluses (of $785 billion over the past decade) with them.  Fine wines and spirits are overtaking jewellery and beauty products as the main products consumed in luxury spending.