Today in Russian Business

300108corp.jpgFinance Minister Alexei Kudrin, “seen as a key liberal in the government,” has called for changes in Russia’s foreign policy to guarantee a stable and predictable regime for investors. Kudrin also said that Russia will move to a free floating exchange rate of the rouble and introduce an inflation targeting regime within the next three years, and that the economy expanded 7.8% last year, with a potential average growth of roughly 7% through to 2010. Italian-based chocolate maker Ferrero is planning to build a chocolate factory in Russia’s Vladimir region. The country’s tax authorities are seeking $4 million in back taxes from Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element holding, a claim some analysts fear may carry political overtones. One commented, “No [Russian] tax case is purely a tax case — there is always a political background.Renault, France’s second-largest carmaker, will use its partnership with Russia’s AvtoVAZ to strengthen its Lada brand. Polyus Gold plans to launch what will be Russia’s largest gold mine, the $2.5 billion Natalka project, in 2012 or 2013. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov says that the government is seeking to turn Russia’s timber industry into an advanced sector of the national economy within 12 years. PHOTO: Russia’s Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin addresses the audience during an investment conference in Moscow January 30, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA)