Today in Russian Business – Oct 4, 2011

Clash of the tycoons: exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky has taken on his former business partner, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, in London’s High Court with accusations that the latter ‘betrayed’ him and values ‘wealth and influence more than friendship and loyalty’.   The case stems from claims on the part of Berezovsky that his former protege intimidated him into selling him his shares in their oil firm, Sibneft, at a fraction of their market value.  Berezovsky is apparently seeking ‘in excess’ of $5.5 billion from his former colleague.  US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has told a top Russian official he is confident that Russia will be able resolve remaining issues in order to join the World Trade Organization this year, in a mood of optimism seconded by Vice President Joseph Biden at a meeting with Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.  Meanwhile Prime Minister Putin has backed the creation of a ‘Eurasian Union‘ which would extend from Moscow’s existing customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan to encompass as many of the CIS nations which wished to participate.  The Moscow Times reports that Vitaly Shlykov, the country’s leading expert on military economics, has called the departure of Alexei Kudrin ‘a courageous act of self-sacrifice protesting mindless government spending, primarily for defense’ and wonders how the unprecedented increase in military spending will be managed by an over-squeezed budget.  The FT has an interview with Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin on how the company is speeding towards dynamic growth.