Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov says that “there will be no financial crisis in Russia”. Russia will increase timber export duties this week despite strong objections from the European Union and the risk it could hurt its chance of entering the World Trade Organization. The World Bank and the Russian Ministry of Regional Development held a joint seminar entitled “Strategies for the Economic Development of the Regions” yesterday in Moscow. Diamond miner Alrosa said it would vie for control of African resources, including diamonds, oil and gas. Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, is no longer one of the top 3 Russian companies in stock market capitalization thanks to the mortgage crisis. The bank’s net profit rose by over 50% last year, and it is planning to expand in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Africa in order to become a “truly global player”. Renault and Avtovaz plan to buy a factory in Kaliningrad from Russian manufacturer Avtotor. Russian Railways could raise the average rail fare by a further 8%. The government will look again at its planned hikes in domestic electricity prices for business users because the unregulated prices are rising more quickly than anticipated.