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Today in Russian Business – April 23, 2010

The State Duma may approve today a bill on the financing of hospitals and schools that would implement a free market approach, which ‘could lead to a drop in state subsidies, forcing hospitals, schools and even libraries to increase their numbers of paid services or reduce work hours so as to make ends meet,‘ says the Moscow Times, which calls the bill ‘anti-socialist‘. Russia has ‘turned a page in economic history‘, returning to global capital markets with its eurobond this week, $5.5 billion of which has been priced. ‘Nobody would have believed that Russia could sell debt at these levels,‘ said one analyst, commenting on the cheap rates of borrowing.  The FT quotes another as saying, ‘The cheaper the money, the less impetus there will be to change budget policy.‘  Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says the issue ‘will improve placements by [Russian] corporations‘.  Nestlé has apparently been barred from importing baby food products to Russia due to ‘low production standards‘.  The Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine has suspended its decision to approve the Telenor/Alfa merger of shares in VimpelCom and Kyivstar, due to a petition issued by a rival of the latter.  Sberbank is feeling pessimistic about interest margins this year.  Watch a BBC report on the Moscow property market.  A new social networking site has been developed to support Russian property investors who have been the victims of fraud.