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Today in Russian Business – Feb 21, 2011

The New York Times picks up on the unusual nature of Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s remarks regarding political reform as a prerequisite for economic reform.  Crab merchant Arkadi Gontmakher, a US citizen who was facing what he believed to be trumped up criminal charges against him, has reportedly returned to the US.  A Moscow Times op-ed considers the dubious legality of the case against real estate tycoon Yelena Baturina.  Newspaper owner Alexander Lebedev has asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to intervene in a criminal investigation linked to his bank, in an open letter in which he claims ‘we are dealing with an organized mafia group‘.  The FT outlines the attraction and the pitfalls of investing in Russia.  Why Russia is sending the ‘wrong signal’ to foreign investors, by the American Chamber of Commerce.  US carmaker Ford Motor Company, and Russia’s Sollers will be setting up shop together in Russia, according to ITAR-TASS.  GAZ Group is planning to sign a deal this week with Germany’s Volkswagen to produce up to 300,000 cars a year in Russia.  Rushydro has asked the government to sell 8% of the company to a strategic investor in 2012, Reuters reports.  The Bank of Moscow is fending off a takeover by state-controlled VTB, by seeking to reverse a decision to propose a VTB executive as the bank’s new CEO: see Reuters for details.