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Today in Russian Business – Feb 12th, 2009

A senior Russian prosecutor has accused ‘former and current deputy finance ministers’ of large-scale theft of state funds.  ‘Russia’s plan to outline a vision of a new global economic order to the Group of Seven finance ministers this week fits very uneasily with the collapse of its economy.’  Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich said that the government is planning on a budget deficit of 8% of gross domestic product in 2009, although its stock market is reportedly one of the few to have recorded gains thus far this year.  Property developer Mirax Group has rolled over its debts and starting to take on new projects.  Its owner, Sergei Polonsky, said ‘I am positive that if we got rid of all the analysts and threw them on an island, there would be no more crisis.  Oleg Deripaska warns that ‘no one talks in Russia about toxic assets but it’s already an issue’.  Rostelecom, half controlled by the state, is considering buying stakes in 30 telecoms operators in Russia, and expects strong revenue figures this year.  Coca-Cola is to invest $1.2 billion in Russia over the next 3-5 years. VTB has requested clearance to buy up to 50% of Polyus Gold, but the request will be denied because the seller has not been disclosed.  Why aren’t Russian banks lending more money?  Because they know that, in most cases, they won’t be paid back, writes this columnist