Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to introduce the Russian ruble asa single currency in the Russian-Belarusian Union effective January 1,2004, which is a year earlier than it had been initially planned. Putintold journalists about his initiative at a press conference in the Kremlintoday, after his meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.The President stressed that he had already commissioned the government tospeed up the process of introducing the single currency in the Union. Putinnoted that the introduction of the Russian ruble as a single legal tender ayear ahead of schedule "would require some exertion and efforts" fromBelarusian colleagues and would create "some exertion for the Russianeconomy as well". .
Russia has left the list of 33 largest holders of US government bonds, after the country disposed of at least a third of remaining bonds