President Medvedev’s economic aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, has said that Russia is contemplating joining the WTO either in a customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, or simultaneously, as individual states, but on the same conditions. A new high-level US-Russia commission set up by Presidents Obama and Medvedev is set to address the problems of corruption and bureaucracy. The Moscow Times examines the factors behind the slowing down of Magna’s Opel bid, due to the approval needed from different parties. Metalloinvest, controlled by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, has asked banks for more time to repay its $5.5 billion debts. Russia’s average inflation rate will comprise 12-12.5% in 2009 according to Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. Another 50 banks may lose their licenses before 2009 is out. As part of a program of assistance to Russian industry, VTB will lend $450 million to steel pipe manufacturer TMK. Russia’s Kemerovo region has asked ArcelorMittal to pass control of two coal mines to the local administration rather than suspend work at the mines. Fears of social unrest should the mines be closed are worrying local authorities.