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Today in Russian Business – Nov. 17, 2008

G20 leaders, including Russia, have committed not to introduce any new trade barriers over the next year, complicating Vladimir Putin’s original crisis plan to raise import duties on ‘a wide range of goods‘.  The descent of Uralkali, into which Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin has reopened a 2006 investigation, is affecting external projects including two new rail links in the Perm region.  RusHydro and Razgulai have both announced big job cuts as the government announces that it will increase unemployment benefits as of next year.  Russian Technologies is working with the government to create Rosavia, the new state-airline designed to be an alternative to Aeroflot.  The Duma is to look at at a bill that would tax alcohol producers 2 rubles per half liter of vodka to support medical assistance such as treatment for alcoholism.  Read a special report on Skolkovo, an oligarch-funded business school in Moscow.  Mikhail Prokhorov’s $700 million shareholder payment from Rusal is to be delayed.  A Moscow-based luxury property developer has received a $500 million loan from VTB. After a promising start last year with plenty of resources and support, Russia’s high-technology sector is now struggling.  On the other hand, pawn shops are doing exceedingly well