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Soaring electricity prices to hurt Russian business

The head of RAO UES, Russia's electricity monopoly, admits that some companies will be forced out of business by the latest price hikes. But Anatoly Chubais says the rises are needed to pay for updates to Russia's dilapidated power grid. He says busines

“The prices of Russian electricity can be followed on the Internet on a daily basis. They are transparent for everybody. Those who are able to accept those prices – buy, those who cannot – do not buy. That is the principle of the market economy,” Chubais said.

But he denied there would be a crisis on the scale of Ukraine, where some industries collapsed after prices were liberalised. Chubais said fuel prices in Russia are much lower then in Ukraine and it makes the difference.

Analysts accept subsidies are bad for everyone, keeping companies inefficient, encouraging waste and even blocking the country’s entry to the World Trade Organisation.

But the fact is no one knows whether Russians can survive a sharp shock to break 90 years of cheap electricity in only five.