The Moscow Times introduces us to Russia’s answer to Davos, the St. Petersburg Economic forum which kicks off today. Chinese President Hu Jintao will be the top foreign guest at the forum, implying, some suggest, an emphasis on the BRIC nations. Putin is not expected to attend the event, which is the domain of business-minded sidekick Medvedev and ‘It is Medvedev’s political future that vexes investors as political uncertainty mounts,’ says the Moscow Times. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has argued in a video interview that it is in fact corruption which has scared off investors. ‘[T]he country increasingly resembles a Middle Eastern oil autocracy more than the budding European democracy that showed so much promise 20 years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union’, says the FT. But it is not a dependence on oil that is the economy’s problem, ‘the causes of Russia’s backwardness lie in its inherited production structure’ argues this commentator. Meanwhile the Prime Minister has been vaunting Russia’s economic recovery, saying that the country will reach pre-crisis levels by 2012. The European Commission is apparently disappointed that Russia has not yet implemented the lifting of the EU vegetable ban despite Friday’s promise from President Medvedev to do so.