Prime Minister Vladimir Putin introduced a cash-for-scrap-cars scheme and mortgage support at Saturday’s United Russia congress, as he forecasted a 2009 GDP decline of 8-8.5%, ‘which would be Russia’s worst result since 1994,‘ notes the Washington Post. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says Russia’s first road connecting East and West will be finished next year (over thirty years after construction began?), as part of a project to build 6,000km of federal roads. ‘Russia still lags behind its BRIC partners in terms of bilateral trade with Africa, but its trade with Africa is the fastest growing — at 15 percent annually since 1992.‘ Renault may take full control of AvtoVAZ in the next four years – if it hasn’t merged with KamAZ to create an autos giant by then. Two General Motors employees in St Petersburg – one of them a union leader – have been dismissed for carrying out a strike. Russian retail sales and disposable incomes are on the up, but, unfortunately, so is unemployment.