Today in Russian Business – Dec 22, 2010

Authorities have apparently initiated a criminal investigation into alleged embezzlement by the Bank of Moscow, as ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov’s business interests face scrutiny.  The bank has refuted criticisms from VTB, suggesting that pejorative comments were designed to devalue the bank and thus make the acquisition price cheaper.  According to Reuters, Russia’s state-owned diamond miner Alrosa is looking to sell a 49% stake in its northern Severalmaz project to miner Rio Tinto for nearly $400 million.  Metalloinvest owner Alisher Usmanov wants to increase his stake in Arsenal Football Club to 29.9%, which would help him prevent any takeover attempts.  Anders Aslund, in the Moscow Times, looks back on what he views to be a sorry year for Russia’s economy.  According to Aton, in 2011, the ruble is set to rise 6% versus the dollar as the privatization drive and higher oil prices attract investors.