The International Monetary Fund (IMF) gives positive forecast of the Russian economic development for 2002, Alexei Kudrin, vice-premier and Finance Minister, told the State Duma (lower parliamentary house) Friday. According to him, the IMF mission completed its work by making an annual review of the Russian Federation and giving forecast for next year. According to IMF estimates, despite the fall in oil prices this year Russia managed to preserve a strong balance of payments, growth rates, efficient economic dynamics and accumulate an extra gold and currency reserve as well as small financial reserve. Currently, the financial reserve has been legitimized in the draft budget for 2002 passed by the State Duma today, the vice-premier stressed. According to him, "the financial reserve will provide a serious solid base for budget performance," and primarily social obligations. Moreover, "we will honour all the obligations on domestic and foreign debts," Kudrin stated. He noted in conclusion that the Russian government was optimistic about budget performance next year.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.