Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov is quietly optimistic that ‘a slow and cautious recovery is under way’. Shuvalov has predicted that the economy could return to its pre-crisis state by 2012 and does not envisage circumstances necessitating the devaluation of the ruble in the near future. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has told reporters that Russia’s GDP in the July-September period is expected to increase 1.5% against the previous quarter. Is a new privatization program on the cards? Reuters reports that Russia has apparently spent more than 50% of the $480 billion it had allocated for crisis fighting. St Petersburg construction workers are apparently threatening Pikalyovo-style action unless Putin personally deals with the problem of wage arrears. Who knows, they might even get a free watch. The Washington Post reports that Russia has reached a settlement with the Bank of New York Mellon. Russia will be paid $14 million for court costs, a mere morsel of the $22.5 billion it was seeking, but apparently will also receive a $4 billion discounted loan from the bank. Russian airline Aeroflot will slash 2,000 jobs in the next six months and may well cut another 4,000 if passenger traffic continues to decline.