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Today in Russian Business – August 11, 2009

MDM bank and Ursa Bank have completed a merger which makes the new $16 billion enterprise Russia’s second biggest non-state bank after Alfa.  The bank may sell a minority stake to investors and plans to increase its loans portfolio by 20-25%.  President Medvedev has reemphasized the importance of Russia diversifying its economy away from a dependence on raw materials.  Japan’s Mitsui and Mechel are set to work on several joint steel projects together.  Saving Russia’s fisheries industry, which catches in the Far East, but needs to sell in Russia’s West, is a complicated affair, says the Moscow Times.  Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov says that car-maker Avtovaz needs further government assistance to prevent social unrest.  Car sales in Russia fell 58% in July in comparison with last year’s figure.  Workers at RegionAvtoTrans-Kurgan have resumed a hunger strike after failing to receive the overdue payments they had been promised.  This year, wage debt at Moscow firms has reached 420 million rubles.  Beggars can’t be choosers: any citizen who has twice refused jobs offered by the employment agencies will have their state benefits frozen