Russia bails out nesting doll industry

If you thought America has its problems with bailing out auto companies and banks, at least it's not throwing money at doll makers.

Russia is bailing out the nesting doll industry and will spend 1 billion rubles, or $28.4 million, to buy crafts such as nesting dolls and hand-painted dishes that will be used mainly as gifts by ministries, state agencies, the White House and the Kremlin, according to a story in the Moscow Times.

Slow sales of matryoshka dolls -- the chubby nesting figures sold as souvenirs -- and other Russian handicrafts has led to the country's largest maker of the handpainted dolls, the Khokhloma Painting Plant, to cut salaries in half after a 40% revenue slump, according to BusinesWeek. Some 30,000 employees in 240 Russian businesses make the dolls and other traditional pieces.

While the nesting dolls typically are painted with the faces and dresses of Russian women, they've also been made in the likeness of Osama bin Laden and President Barack Obama.

The dolls sell for about $15 a set, so it will take plenty of visits from dignitaries to move the nesting dolls out the door.

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