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Today in Russian Business – June 22, 2012

President Vladimir Putin’s keynote speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (‘Putin’s trying to make it into a Davos for Russia,noted one attendee) was rewarded with applause when Putin announced that Boris Titov would be appointed to the newly-created position of ombudsman for entrepreneurs.  Putin says he is committed to buildng a ‘new economy’.  A session at the forum titled ‘Russia-EU Business Dialogue’ focused mainly on free trade initiatives such as the Eurasian Union, and this Moscow Times analysis says that the general attention of the forum was on countries East of Europe.  The forum led to a $550 million investment deal with the Kuwait Investment Authority, and a group of investors have agreed to team up with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to prepare Russian companies for their IPOs.  The BRIC economies may set up their own joint anti-crisis fund if they are not given enough decision-making power at the IMF.  This report compares Medvedev’s promises at the last forum to actual changes over the past year.  ‘Sberbank is the crown jewel of Russia’s much-touted privatization program.’  The company has just signed a $1 billion financing deal with the U.S. Export-Import Bank.  Severstal is to focus on expanding its customer base in the U.S. rather than buying up new factories.