“Russia’s relations with the West, however difficult, have never been more intimate. What passes for the rule of law in Russia makes Westerners blench, yet business thrives.” For the first time this year, the Central Bank of Russia has announced a decline in its gold and foreign exchange reserves. Russia’s largest business lobbies have called on the government to reduce the value-added tax to 10%, following a call from Vladimir Putin for an unspecified cut from the current 18%. German chocolatier Alfred Ritter, currently operating outside Moscow, announced that it will move production back to Germany because of high prices for quality ingredients. Putin has signaled that duties levied on wood exports won’t be scrapped.