The Central Bank of Russia is claiming that the liquidity crisis has strengthened banking finances. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov has “refused to recognize even the signs of the impending collapse of liquidity,” commenting that the bank system “has proven stability and independence from the external environment.” A Levada Center poll says that inflation continues to be a worry for Russians. Shares in Volga Gas rose after a drilling update indicated that a 2.3 km hole in the Volga region of Russia has now been drilled down 100 metres without hitting bottom. Yesterday’s report that Sistema had offered to buy Uralsib Bank was “a technical error”. Russian steel maker Mechel is considering listing its mining division in Frankfurt in an initial public offering that could raise around $4 billion. Golden Telecom, Russia’s largest independent fixed-line operator, said it is in talks to acquire the 49% it doesn’t already own of broadband Internet provider Corbina Telecom. TMK, Russia’s largest manufacturer and exporter of steel pipes, has dropped plans to create a joint venture with US Hydril.