President Vladimir Putin of Russia gave a positive assessment to the government's work. Opening the traditional Monday conference with members of the cabinet of ministers in the Kremlin, he thanked the government and its economic block for the results of their year-long activities. The president said that the results were better than expected. This has happened, said Putin, "not so much due to the favourable foreign economic situation, but by virtue of the purposeful activities of the government and the finance ministry." In particular, stressed the President, it has ben possible to approach the inflation rate expected during the year -- in the past few months it has been possible to reduce it. President Putin also thanked all members of the cabinet of ministers "who dealt with the State Duma's work in passing the draft budget through the Lower House of Parliament in the second reading. At the same time the president stressed that "a lot of work still lies ahead."