Russia's debt to the International Monetary Fund will be $7.69bn by the end of 2001, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at a conference of the Association of Audit Institutions of Russia today. According to him, the country will spend a total of $13.75bn for debt repayments, including $1.448bn to the IMF. Due to a consistent money-saving policy, the government managed to reduce the ratio of the state debt to the GDP from 140 per cent in 2000 to 55 or 50 per cent at the end of 2001. "Less than 60 per cent against the GDP is an absolutely normal debt, which is comparable with average European parameters," Kudrin stressed. He believes that the debt reduction will make the Russian economy stable, predictable and relieve it from the dependence on the demand on foreign markets.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land