Today in Russian Business – Jan 11, 2012

Russia enjoyed a budget surplus in 2011 after two years in deficit as spending was lower than planned and oil prices surpassed estimates, Bloomberg reports.  According to the Federal State Statistics Service, consumer price inflation in Russia hit a historic post-Soviet low of 6.1% in 2011.  Meanwhile neighbor and trade partner Belarus’ overall base rate of inflation in 2011 was put at 118.1%, 110% more than predicted by the government.  In a new report from consultants Grant Thornton International, businessmen in Russia are apparently the most pessimistic about their country’s national economic prospects, out of the four BRIC nations.  The Moscow Times reports that the Central Bank and the Interior Ministry have calculated the total sum of money gained through illegal activity in the finance sector during 2011 to be $158 billion, or around 10% of Russia’s annual GDP.  Russia may postpone the planned privatization of state stakes in energy companies as a result of unfavorable market prices.  Indonesia has reportedly signed a $470 million contract with Russia to purchase six Sukhoi Su-30MK2 jet fighters for the Indonesian Air Force.  Food retailer Magnit saw its sales increase by 42% in 2011, slightly under its forecast of 43-48% growth.