Today in Russian Business – Dec 19, 2011

Russia’s two main stock exchanges, the MICEX and the RTS, have merged today, part of a bid to draw company IPOs to Moscow instead of London.  It has been confirmed that Anton Siluanov is the new Finance Minister, dampening rumours that Alexei Kudrin (who described Siluanov as ‘a professional’) could have returned to the post.  President Dmitry Medvedev wants to use the National Welfare Fund to build new rail and road links, although such a move would require a change in the law, which has allocated the fund for balancing pension deficits.  Russia’s stock exchange has taken a serious hit over the last two weeks of protests and calls for reform, over fears about short-term stability, or ‘cracks appearing in the facade’.  The court case between Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich is almost at an end, with the latter’s defense lawyer planning to make his final remarks today.