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Russia's Reserve Fund worth $137 bln at end of 2008 - ministry

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MOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Reserve Fund stood at 4.03 trillion rubles ($137.1 billion) and the National Wealth Fund at 2.6 trillion rubles ($87.97 billion) as of the end of 2008, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.

The Finance Ministry divided the former Stabilization Fund into the Reserve Fund, designed to cushion the federal budget against a plunge in oil prices, and the National Wealth Fund, designed to help Russia carry out pension reforms, on February 1, 2008.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said late in December that Russia would face a budget deficit of 1.5-2 trillion rubles ($52-$70 billion) in 2009 amid declining world oil prices.

"In 2009, the budget will have a deficit of 1.5 to 2 trillion rubles, which we will have to make up from the national Reserve Fund," Kudrin said.

"2009 will be the most difficult for the Russian and world economies. I cannot remember a worse year since the end of the Second World War," he said. "This will be the worst year for the economy in modern times."

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