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Today in Russian Business – Dec 6, 2010

A pirated software investigation against environmental group Baikal Environmental Wave that ‘all but paralyzed its operations‘ has been dismissed after Microsoft said it would not support the case – apparently a direct attempt to distance itself from the authorities’ use of software piracy investigations to undermine opposition groups.  The Russian government plans to contribute almost the full $10 billion price tag initially estimated by Vladimir Putin to cover World Cup spending plans, but it is thought that big business will be expected to contribute, and that the final costs could come to well over double that amount (the Moscow Times has a rundown of potential costs, including stadiums, infrastructure, and hotels).  KPMG research indicates that location, resources and infrastructure are less important factors for investors than legal environment, tax incentives and attitude of the authorities – which Russia takes as good news for its regions, with Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina promising to make the improving of regional investment climates a key component of economic policy.  Current influx figures are low, but the Kremlin anticipates that more highly-skilled foreign workers will apply to work in Russia under the current simplified scheme next year.  The head of Rosoboronexport estimates that its weapons sales will be worth over $10 billion for this year.  Could Russia be made to pay compensation to foreign companies over losses resulting from the ‘nationalization‘ of Yukos assets?