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Today in Russian Business – April 24, 2009

The economy contracted by 9.5% in the first three months of the year, and may drop by 6% this year. The Central Bank will slash its key refinancing rate to 12.5% from 13%.  Prosecutors are being told to crack down on executives who are violating labor law by postponing payments of salaries.  VTB managed to rake in a surprising $212 million net profit last year.  Kamaz automobile plant will cease production until the end of May among measures ‘to prevent mass dismissals of skilled personnel’.  Car-maker GAZ has denied claims it is interested in buying a stake in General Motors.  Aeroflot saw 13.4% fewer passengers in the first quarter, but fared better than the rest of the airline industry.  Norilsk Nickel board members are upholding plans to sell 4% of shares, blocking oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s attempt to stop the sale.  Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has extended an offer to bail out financial media service RBC, but the terms have not changed.  Russia’s international currency and gold reserves rose by $900 million last week.