Russia: Putin talks with business moguls over lunch at SPIEF

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with heads of foreign companies and business associations for a working lunch on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday. The International Economic Forum which kicked off Thursday has some 7,500 participants from Russian and 64 other countries. Despite sanctions, more than 7,000 guests and 1,000 international companies including the heads of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total are attending. Prominent Russian guests include former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Sberbank boss German Gref. They are among a host of government figures, business people, academics and media personalities who flocked to St. Petersburg to take part in the event. Since SPIEF was founded in 1997, it has proven to be one of the most important economic gatherings hosted by Russia, aiming to offer an open platform to discuss economic issues in relation to the Russian market. The forum runs until June 20.