The Russian government will not join the forthcoming agreement on the production of diamonds between the corporations Alrosa, of Russia, and De Beers, of South Africa, as has been the case before. Russian Vice Premier and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin revealed the above following a Kremlin conference devoted to the development of the diamond industry. According to Kudrin, this will become a "fundamental characteristic" of the five-year agreement between the Russian and the South African companies, to be signed this December. For his part, Alrosa President Vyacheslav Shtyrov pointed out that the agreement will make it possible for Russia to become a leader not only in diamond mining, but also in diamond working. He said that Russia presently ranks fifth among the world's top diamond cutters and that the forthcoming agreement will promote the country to the second position. He also said that staying out of the agreement does not mean the federal government is withdrawing from the diamond business. According to Shtyrov, the government will continue regulating the industry.