Russia, with its huge allotment of natural resources and semi-authoritarian, state-capitalist economic policies, is an intriguing investment idea in the wake of a surging stock market and global economic recovery. Investors can use exchange traded funds (ETFs) to invest in Russia.

Although Russia’s economy contracted 7.9% in 2009, its main stock index, the RTS, doubled over the same period, reports Stuart Williams of AFP. As a result, the number of billionaires jumped to 62 from 32 at the beginning of 2009. Vladimir Lisin tops the list with a $16 billion fortune mostly tied up in steel producer Novolipetsk Steel. [How to Choose Emerging Market ETFs.]

The lag in real economic growth has not gone unnoticed by Russian brass, reports Tejinder Singh of All Headline News. Council on Foreign Relations Adjunct Fellow Jeffrey Mankoff pointed out that “although the worst of the economic crisis seemed to be over, Russia would continue to feel the ill effects longer than other industrialized nations because of its rigid economy burdened with an overweening state role.” [ETF Strategies for Playing the BRICs.]

On an optimistic note, Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev sees this as a unique opportunity to reform Russian economic policy to be more in line with those of Western countries. By doing so, he believes he can help Russia gain access to resources that would help boost its competitiveness.

Even with economic reform, Russia will remain susceptible to swings in oil prices because of its heavy reliance on natural resources.  Investors will be wise to keep this in mind when investing in Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX), which is 42% invested in the oil and gas sector. State Street’s new Russia ETF, SPDR S&P Russia (NYSEArca: RBL), has a 49% weighting in energy.

For more stories on Russia, visit our Russia category.

Sumin Kim contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.