Today in Russian Business – Dec 29, 2011

The suspension of coal mining operations in Siberia’s Kuzbass region following an earthquake has taken its toll on the share prices of Russia’s top coal producers, with Evraz seeing the greatest drop.  The company’s North American division plans to borrow as much as $610 million to refinance loans as it seeks to reduce debt costs.  Whilst Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has labeled Russia a ‘key strategic partner’, he has also highlighted the fact that Moscow owes money for four years of unpaid rent for the military installations on the country’s territory.  The FT considers BNP Paribas’ decision to end independent retail banking in Russia, a strategy preceded by similar moves from Barclays and HSBC.  The Moscow Times reports on how mobile phone networks found themselves struggling to meet demand during the December 10 demonstration on Bolotnaya Ploshchad and last weekend’s follow-up rally on Prospekt Akademika Sakharova.  Russia’s second-biggest lender, VTB, has bought out an additional share issue worth $3.2 billion in its Bank of Moscow unit, bringing its stake to around 95 percent.