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Today in Russian Business – March 16, 2011

The New Economic School has ranked Moscow last out of ten regions in a survey evaluating the best place in Russia to do business.  The chief of Goldman Sachs has been in Russia to discuss the bank’s possible involvement in a direct investment fund that could attract foreign capital to the country. Yulia Latynina suggests that Rosneft’s January agreement to exchange shares with BP ‘look[s] like an attempt by Russia’s ruling elite to create a financial cushion‘ in the event of political unrest.  President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into overpricing practices at the 2014 Winter Olympics after receiving reports about doubled prices for materials.  Belarus is seeking a total of $3 billion in loans from Russia and an ex-Soviet emergency fund, which Russia says will be granted with a number of conditions, including currency restrictions.  Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are meeting today to discuss economic cooperation.  This report says that Belarus is ‘pinning its hopes‘ on the formation of a Single Economic Space.  The government’s car scrappage scheme will not be renewed when it runs out in September.  Latest estimates for this year’s grain harvest are at 85 million, including 40 million tons of wheat, but it is thought that Russia will still need to import 1 million tons for the next season.  This piece ranks Russia’s ten most innovative companies, putting internet search company Yandex in first place.  Last weekend’s regional elections saw the re-election of Roman Abramovich to his Chukotka governor seat.