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As the VIPs arrived this week at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia's answer to Davos, it was almost as if the past 18 months had never happened.The message was simple: Russia is again open for business.While the geopolitical backdrop has improved slightly from last year – when the forum took place amid the start of fighting in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea as well as economic sanctions – a collection of new data and pessimistic words from the country's leading economic thinkers reflect worries of a deepening Russian economic crisis that is far from over.The gathering in St Petersburg takes place amid deep divisions in the Russian government concerning the best path forward. Token critics such as Mr Kudrin and German Gref, chief executive of Sberbank, Russia's largest lender, have called for reforms such as economic diversification and the improvement of Russia's economic climate.Despite the bleak economic backdrop, there were signs some investors were becoming cautiously more optimistic about Russia after a dire 2014 .Next, the UK retailer, also decided this year to build up distribution structures in Russia.
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