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Ukraine to review 2006 budget - PM

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KIEV, August 10 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's government will revise the 2006 budget before the end of the year, the country's new prime minister said Thursday.

Viktor Yanukovych told a news conference that estimates by the Party of Regions, which he leads, pointed to a budget deficit of around 6 billion hryvnias ($1.2 billion).

"We must review the 2006 budget and make preparations for the winter period before the year's end," he said.

The pro-Russian politician had previously served as Ukraine's prime minister under former president Leonid Kuchma. During his time in office, the country saw strong economic growth that has not been equaled since.

Yanukovych also said the Cabinet would develop a program for the country's strategic development over the next five years.

The premier, whose first language is Russian, highlighted the problem of discrimination against the Russian language in Ukraine. "We must create conditions to give people who are used to speaking Russian the possibility of using it in their everyday lives," he said, adding that the Ukrainian language should also be developed in the Russian-speaking southeastern regions of Ukraine.

Yanukovych called for a well-balanced state language policy. "It is in our interests for our children to have a very good knowledge of Ukrainian," he said.

The status of the Russian language, along with NATO membership, was one of the hotly-debated issues that delayed the signing of a national unity agreement by President Viktor Yushchenko and parliamentary leaders before Yanukovych's appointment as prime minister last Friday. The sides eventually agreed to keep Ukrainian as the main state language, without entrenching it as the only official language.

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