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The Kremlin gets tough



The row between the Kremlin and the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), brewing since last summer, has finally boiled over.

After six months of wrangling with the central bank, the government foisted a restructuring concept on it in December. Relations have since broken down completely just when it looked as if the plan might actually be implemented.

The first item on a long list of things to do was the transfer of Russia's second largest bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB) - 99% owned by the CBR - to the state and the selling off of 20% to the EBRD in the process.

Fed up with the obstinate and inefficient CBR, the Kremlin has been taking more power into its own hands. It wants to get banks working to boost economic growth, while the CBR favours an evolution-over-revolution approach that leaves such banks as VTB dominating the sector.

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