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12:55 GMT +3 hours21 December 2014
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Russia’s Foreign Debt May Rise ‘Slightly’ - Putin

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Russia might slightly increase its foreign debt but the government is committed to keeping it at its current low level, President Vladimir Putin said at the APEC summit in Vladivostok on Friday.

Russia might slightly increase its foreign debt but the government is committed to keeping it at its current low level, President Vladimir Putin said at the APEC summit in Vladivostok on Friday.

“The Russian Federation has the lowest foreign debt among the developed economies. While the Russian government’s overall debt obligations stand at approximately 10 percent [of GDP], its foreign debt is about 2.5 percent,” he said.

“A little increase in [our] foreign [debt] obligations is of course possible but overall we will stay at a sufficiently low level.”

In the first half of this year Russia’s sovereign debt grew 16 percent in dollar terms and 19.3 percent in euro terms.

Putin also said the Russian government will pursue a general course toward consolidation of banks but will go slow.

“We are determined to continue strengthening our financial system,” he said, adding that there will not be “excessive demands or hostile takeovers.”

Free movement of capital remains a basic principle, Putin said.

“I believe that this fundamental position on the free flow and expatriation of capital guarantees its return as needed.”

The government will work to keep 2012 inflation at last year’s level, Putin said.

“Seven years ago our inflation was 13-14 percent; last year it was still rather high compared to [other] developed economies, but nevertheless, record low over the past 20 years - just 6.1 percent,” he said, noting that the Russian government will continue to reduce it.