Today in Russian Business – March 2nd, 2009

Vladimir Putin has made a public example of Kremlin logic using the case study of Sakha Republic: in a meeting with its president, Putin said that the region’s economic problems would be solved by the fact that Sakha mines a lot of gold, and that the price of gold is on the rise.  Putin says he is against restoring capital controls, as it would mean ‘abandoning ambitious plans of turning the ruble into a regional reserve currency’.  Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich, speaking at the annual Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, said he wants companies ‘to stop running to the government for help’.  Dmitry Medvedev says that ‘the economic crisis will not damage social stability so severely’.  Alexander Lebedev, the new owner of London’s Evening Standard newspaper, is planning on expanding his media holdings with a Moscow-based, English-language radio station, which, he says, will give him an additional platform for criticizing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  Video of an interview with Lebedev has been posted on the Guardian website.  He speaks about the markets turning away from the printed media, the importance of a free press, and how he made and lost his first money.  Plans to create a national mining giant have been laid to rest after the Kremlin opposed a proposal to absorb the billion-dollar debts of top mining companies in exchange for a stake in the firm.  Oleg Deripaska has taken direct operational control of his businesses by assuming the role of chief executive of his holding company, Basic Element.