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Today in Russian Business – Oct 19, 2009

In a case brought to light by Hermitage Capital Management’s campaign to expose state corruption in Russia, Viktor Markelov has pleaded guilty to ‘fraud by prior collusion by a group of persons and in an especially large amount‘ in a Moscow court.  Hermitage, meanwhile, has sent out a new letter to six government agencies alleging that senior Kremlin officials have ‘conspired with a private gangto steal $230 million from the Russian treasury.  Bloomberg and The Times of London report the figure as $381 million, the Moscow Times as less than a quarter of that sum.  AvtoVAZ workers are rallying for the company’s nationalization.  Swiss engineering firm ABB says it is reassessing its business model in Russia, owing to increased operating costs.  Is Russian oligarch Mikhail D. Prokhorov planning to buy a controlling stake in America’s N.B.A?  Libya will buy more than $1 billion of Russian combat planes by early 2010.  Steel pipe producer TMK has reported a first half net loss of $204 million, largely due to a slump in U.S. sales.  And Russia is to launch an $18 billion bond – its first international bond in a decade – to bolster public finances.