Today in Russian Business – March 13th, 2009

An investment analyst in London suggests that contract killings in Russia ‘are far more prolific than the number reported in the media suggest’, and the director of Transparency International notes the disastrous effect these killings are having on the business climate and community.  President Dmitry Medvedev’s appointment of Yelena Skrynnik as the new agriculture minister is ‘a surprise decision praised by industry insiders’.  Forbes’ 2009 Rich List is somewhat lighter in the way of oligarchs this year.  The Financial Monitoring Agency may arrange for banks to monitor officials’ finances in the fight against money laundering.  The Kremlin is moving to support its craftmakers, placing about 1 billion rubles ($28.4 million) in orders for nesting dolls and hand-painted dishes to support the trades whose sales have plummeted.  Norway’s Telenor is calling the seizure of its multibillion-dollar Vimpelcom stake ‘yet another escalation of the attempts to steal our Vimpelcom shares with the aid of Russian courts’.  The Kremlin’s budget surplus has shrunk to a third of its February value.  Rusal has pledged 25% of stakes in its subsidiaries to the state as a condition of its $4.5bn bail-out loan.  Psychological training for the unemployed?