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Today in Russian Business – March 23rd, 2009

The Economic Development Ministry has revealed that Russia’s economy shrank 8% in the first two months of the year.  Is Russia looking at a five-year recovery‘Russia’s domestic policy is constantly at odds with its economic policy.’  Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group will increase its stake in United Company RusAl to 18.5% as part of a massive restructuring plan for the company’s billions of dollars of debt.  Is Oleg Deripaska going to lose control of the aluminum giant?  ‘At this stage, Deripaska’s stake is likely to fall below 50%.’  The chief executive of Russian Railways has responded to accusations of broken contracts by lashing out at Uralvagonzavod for its quality control standards.  ‘Despite the rapid emergence of small businesses since 1991, there are still too many obstacles for the entrepreneur in Russia.’  First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov says Russian firms unable to repay debts to foreign lenders may have to surrender stakes to their creditors. ‘The list of [strategic] enterprises for which we are ready to fight is very limited. We are talking about only a few, not dozens,’ he said.