Panelists at a Russian business forum this week concentrated on the positive lessons learned as a result of the financial crisis, including new understanding of brand weakness, value for money and consumer mentality. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is pushing the need for Russian technological innovation, to help the country catch up with developments in the West. Former Finance Minister Anatoly Chubais also warned that Russia needs to innovate. ‘We have to admit we have fallen very far behind,‘ he said. Boris Kagarlitsky questions the government’s notion of ‘innovation‘. A Vladimir-Putin-headed commission has approved the merger of the Russia and Ukraine-based assets of Alfa Group and Norway’s Telenor, hoping that it would spur development.