Anxious to dispel fears of a complete economic collapse, during his United Russia speech yesterday Vladimir Putin vowed to protect Russia’s economy and promised a 4% profit tax cut, a measure that would amount to a state loss of around $14.6 billion for 2009. A VTsIOM poll conducted at the beginning of the month reveals that over 60% of Russians don’t know what has caused the financial crisis. Is there any correlation between that figure and Vladimir Putin’s 74% approval rate? Or the 29% of Russians who don’t know who Barack Obama is? The Times suggests that Putin is ‘out of step with a generation preoccupied with personal wealth‘. Uralkali and Metalloinvest have both announced output cuts, and, according to its ‘visibly upset‘ chief executive, Norilsk Nickel is now predicting a 75% profit drop for next year. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov intends to punish companies that converted their state rescue loans into US currency.