Today in Russian Business – May 31, 2010

Belarus has snubbed the customs union meeting held with Russia and Kazakhstan, apparently due to ongoing differences of opinion on gas (Gazprom says Minsk must pay its $192 million debt to the Russian gas company before progress relating to the customs union can be made).  For Russia and Kazakhstan the union is apparently still on.  Belarus claims to maintain its commitment to the idea of it.  Taxes for drivers that provoked widespread protests in Kaliningrad in February this year could be changed into excise tax.  Health concerns have prompted Russia to halt certain imports of Brazilian beef.  Retailer Dixy has reported a first quarter profit.   Kimberly Clark will open a major personal care products plant this week, which it intends to be the hub of its eastern European operations.  Severstal has agreed to supply carmaker Avtovaz with 60% of its steel.  The carmaker may create as many as 3,000 temporary jobs.  Novolipetsk Steel’s billionaire owner Vladimir Lisin may bid for a 25% stake in Russian Railways’ Freight One cargo shipping unit.  Russian lawmaker Vladimir Gruzdev’s family fund has bought 19% of Seventh Continent.   It’s a long way to Silicon Valley, says the FT.