Today in Russian Business – Feb 10, 2011

In reference to a presidential aide’s suggestion that the government privatize VTB, Konstantin Sonin writes against government control of ‘major segments of economic activity‘.  But the privatization program is not progressing as planned, says Stefan Wagstyl: ‘Russia’s efforts to raise funds on the stock market through a privatisation drive are off to a rotten start.‘  The founder of the Maxi Group steel mill, Nikolai Maksimov, has been arrested on suspicion of abusing his position, in connection with a conflict with Novolipetsk Steel.  Maksimov says he had anticipated the arrest, and has been selling his Sberbank shares accordingly.  President Dmitry Medvedev issued some ‘hasty comments‘ on the possibility that the process of intervention tenders for grain left the market open to corruption and initially ordered a suspension, but was apparently won over by Kremlin officials.  Russia’s rich are getting richer – and there are more of them…13 more.  There is speculation that Russia could take the US’ place as the world’s largest supplier of helium.  It has emerged that Bank Rossiya shareholder Yury Kovalchuk bought a 25% stake in state television’s Channel One (with an estimated value of $150 million) from Roman Abramovich last year.  The State Duma needs to reach a consensus on the banning of contract employment before any concrete steps are taken, says a Health and Social Development Deputy – the debate is currently caught between banning contractual employment outright and making provisions to ensure workers’ rights.  EU and Russian business leaders believe Russia is on its way to having the largest car market in the EU.  Toyota has announced plans to set up a production facility in Vladivostok.  The BBC reports on the planned (and funded) projects of Russia’s cosmonauts