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Today in Russian Business – Jan 19, 2010

Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, has reduced its interest rates for private customers to precrisis levels, likely leading to reductions at other banks.  The Russian appetite for luxury goods has suffered as a result of the financial crisis, but is still relatively healthy, says the Financial Times.  The head of a Russian union for Leroy Merlin, the French retailer with 12 stores across Russia, says he was offered a bribe to abandon the union in 2007, and then fired in 2008 for staging a picket.  The head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service is blasting NATO for failing to prevent the creation of a ‘heroin bomb‘ in Afghanistan – much of Afghanistan’s heroin ends up in Russia, which currently has the world’s third largest illegal drugs market.  Reuters is running a Q&A on Russia’s poultry dispute with the US, including a discussion of other exports that could be affected, and the potential $1.3 billion at stake.  The Moscow Times says Turkey could replace the US as Russia’s main poultry supplier if the dispute isn’t resolved.  The Kremlin has extended the deadline for the free privatization of housing, despite complaints that such a measure could endanger affordable housing programs.