As the new year begins, so do the predictions for Russia’s economy. According to BSR, the banking sector largely envisages ‘a poor and volatile first quarter of the year with growth, investment and stock markets picking up and gathering momentum in the second half of year, barring a train wreck in the rest of Europe’. Russia Today asks a group of analysts, among them Aleksandr Morozov from HSBC and Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at Otkrytie FC, for their predictions, which conclude broadly that there is ‘no rosy picture for GDP growth’. All of the BRIC nations face the problem of an aging workforce in 2012, Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill tells Bloomberg; Russia can apparently expect its pension fund deficit to double to 3% of GDP. Is commerce, rather than politics, at the heart of Putin’s Eurasian Union? Russia Today reports on the Kremlin’s extensive and expensive plans for upgrading the military.