Today in Russian Business – May 18, 2009

The BBC looks at the cold snap hitting Russia’s economy, which contracted by 9.5% in the first quarter, the worst shrinkage in 15 years, with GDP shrinking by 23% from the previous quarter.  Alfa bank cut its predictions for Russia’s economy to a 5.7% contraction after output decreased in the first quarter.  The Moscow Times reports that the strong performance of the Russian stock market could be heading for a tumble.  Putin has tried to show support to Russia’s ailing automobile industry by showing off his Lada; the Prime Minister also claimed it on his expenses, whilst many other politicians prefered foreign luxury cars.  GAZ buses have had a photo opportunity in Nicaragua, which has received a gift of 130 buses from Russia to assuage their pubic transport problems.  Workers at St. Petersburg’s Ford Motor assembly plant have protested against the introduction of the four-day week, which will mean a 25% salary cut.  Rusal will manage to stay profitable as aluminum prices should recover, says a confident Mikhail Prokhorov.  Russia’s richest man says that he plans to increase his presence in the power sector.