Russia's priorities are defense, security and administration
The main financial document of the country has been signed. A draft of the federal budget for 2004 and a packet of accompanying documents signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov have been submitted to the RF State Duma. Majority of experts say that consideration and passing of the documents won't encounter any problems in the Duma. Indeed, during the prior, "zero" reading of the documents the centrist majority of the chamber promised to support the draft budget developed by the government.
What are the basic priorities of Russia's economic development? They are determined by the volume of financing appropriated for this or that sphere of budgetary spending in 2004. The list of budgetary priorities is given in decreasing order (in billions of rubles). For defense - 411,473 billion rubles; law enforcement and national security - 310,577; administration - 76,878; judicial authority - 33,251; international activity - 45,085; culture, art and cinema - 15,901; health care - 48,209; social policy - 161,194; science - 46,2; industry, power engineering and construction - 66,598; agriculture and fishery - 31,998; transport and communications - 5,581; civil defense and emergency situations - 26,258; education - 117,792; space exploration - 12,001; army reform - 7,246; highway economy - 79,133; public debt servicing - 287,571; assistance to the regions - 810,617.
According to the refined variant of the budget, expected revenues of the federal budget in 2004 will make up 2 trillion 742 billion 850,4 million rubles or 17.9% of GDP. The expenditures will make up 2 trillion 659 billion 447 million rubles or 17.4% of GDP. The budgetary proficit is expected at the rate of 83 billion 403,4 million rubles (0.5% GDP). The GDP volume is expected at the rate of 15.3 trillion rubles. The budgetary revenues are calculated on the basis of the oil price of $22 per barrel and the expenditures are based upon the price of $20 per barrel. The difference will go to a stabilization foundation; the volume of the foundation, Russia's Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin says, may reach from 83 to 264 billion rubles. The money is supposed to be invested in securities; it will be further used only in extraordinary situations, for example when oil prices suddenly drop (experts say that this may occur in several months already). Russia's regions will get extra 20 billion rubles to compensate wages to workers financed from the budget; financing of the defense order was increased by 10 billion rubles more.
Although Duma's centrist majority is well-disposed, there are lots of claims that are raised with respect to the government. The agrarian party thinks that the draft budget suppressed the agriculture; Yabloko insists that insufficient financing has been appropriated for social sphere maintenance; SPS is still standing up for its variant of the army reform; the Central Bank of Russia disagrees with the suggestion of the government that the Bank must transfer 80 per cent of its earnings to the budget instead of 50 per cent; regional leaders say that little sums of money have been appropriated for wage rising to workers financed from the budget (the wages are supposed to be raised on October 1, 2003).
Russia may terminate all kinds of military and military-technical relations with Israel, including the agreement on the exchange of reconnaissance data
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea