Business in Brief

Mitvol Lawsuit Declined

Oleg Mitvol, a deputy head of the country's environmental watchdog, said Wednesday that Moscow's Presnensky District Court had turned down one of four lawsuits he has filed against his employer.

Last month, Mitvol sued the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use, saying it was legally obligated to evaluate its four deputies before eliminating one of them in line with a government decree.

"De facto, this means that the judge ruled that it is possible to not fulfill government decrees," Mitvol said. "I think that puts the judge in a strange position." He said he planned to appeal. Calls to the court went unanswered. (MT)

Ruble May Weaken in '09

The ruble may weaken in 2009 to between 30.8 and 31.8 against the dollar if the dollar is trading at 1.25 to 1.3 against the euro, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said Wednesday, Interfax reported.

If the dollar-euro rate is lower, the ruble may be more expensive, she said. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil on VEB

LUKoil is unlikely to tap bailout loans offered by state lender Vneshekonombank because of "restrictive terms," the company's deputy vice president of strategic development Andrei Gaidamaka said Wednesday.

Other Russian companies that are "willing to accept higher rates and more restrictive terms are standing in line in front of LUKoil," Gaidamaka said, without elaborating. (Bloomberg)

Gas Exporters to Meet

Leading gas exporters are set to gather in Moscow next week, officials said Wednesday, as the diverse group of countries seeks to strengthen cooperation.

The loose grouping of gas producers, known as the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, will meet on Dec. 23 to sign a new charter to formalize the organization, officials at the Energy Ministry said. (AP)

Mobile Phone Usage Up

Russia's mobile phone subscriptions reached 184 million in November, equivalent to 127 percent of the country's population, up by 1.6 percentage points from October, market research group AC&M said Wednesday.

The number of mobile phone users rose by 2.3 million from the previous month and by 14.9 million from November of 2007. (Reuters)

Central Bank Bill in Duma

The State Duma gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the Central Bank to install its representatives in banks that receive state financial bailout money, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

Central Bank officials would be placed in banks that receive assistance in the form of subordinated loans, unsecured credit lines and cash from the federal budget placed in bank deposits. (Bloomberg)

For the Record

Evraz Group said Wednesday that three people died and one was injured in an accident at its Nizhny Tagil steel plant in Siberia. (Bloomberg)

LUKoil is not in firm talks over buying a stake in Repsol and has made no concrete bids for the Spanish energy company, CEO Vagit Alekperov said Wednesday. (Reuters)