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Yukos chief resigns; S&P puts faith in Russia

On the day that Mikhail Khodorkovsky resigns from his prison cell as chairman of Yukos, Russia's largest oil company, the rating agencies are affirming their confidence in Russia's economic stability.

S&P has confirmed its 'BB' long-term foreign and 'BB+' long term currency sovereign credit ratings on Russia. This follows the decision taken last month by Moody's to bestow on Russia its first investment grade rating - Baa3 - since the calamitous year of debt-default in 1998.

Speculation had mounted that foreign investors - using the raters as a benchmark - would act adversely to Khodorkovsky's arrest; they will be cheered to learn how Yukos shares have increased significantly on news of the resignation.

S&Ps Russian ratings, according to the agency, will continue to be limited by two factors: continued structural, legal and economic issues, and the developing democratic culture alongside a centralised decision-making apparatus within the government. Despite these factors the agency remains positive over Russia's outlook.

There is, however, a caveat. Any further political upheavals may filter through to Russia's economic performance resulting in falling foreign investment and potentially ruinous capital outflows.

Khodorkovsky has his own problems.

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