President Lukashenko says that Belarus is ready to join the Russia and Kazakhstan customs union, whilst lamenting shaky diplomatic relations post gas-spat: ‘They [in Russia] are rudely but professionally falsifying everything we say and make us look like idiots. Do they expect me to be silent?‘. Ria-Novosti reports that the customs union has officially come into operation. Bloomberg says that Russia saw capital inflow of $4.5 billion in the second quarter, according to Central Bank statistics. Vedemosti has apparently reported that the North Caucasus zone will have its own development bank to finance projects. The IMF and Ukraine have made a deal on a $14.9 billion loan that was sought to decrease the budget deficit. Travel agent Thomas Cook looks like it is about to finalize a deal with Russia’s Intourist. President Medvedev has promised to look into complaints from a businessman that Russia Post does not offer fair bidding practices. The US has begun submitting new applications to export meat to Russia, formerly its biggest importer, after a seven-month ban.