Next year's budget certainly ensures scheduled payments on Russia's foreign debt and social welfare allocations, Alexei Kudrin, federal Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, said to a second conference of the Association of Russian Inspection Agencies. A positive balance has become a tangible, even obligatory part of budget policies for a first time within recent years to amount to an approximate 2.5% of this year's gross domestic product, while the overall foreign debt makes 55 to 60% of it to keep within global standards. Thus, Russia now qualifies among normal countries in no need of special monitoring programmes. Russia intends to pay another US$13.75 billion on its foreign debt before the year's end--1.5 billion of this to go to the International Monetary Fund, added Mr. Kudrin.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea