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    STATE DUMA VICE-SPEAKER PREDICTS DOLLAR RATE FOR 2004 AT 28-29 RUBLES

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    MOSCOW, January 27, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - With the price of $25 per barrel of oil the dollar rate in 2004 will be estimated at 28-29 rubles. This opinion was expressed on Tuesday by Russian State Duma Vice-Speaker Aleksander Zhukov at the press-conference with journalists.

    According to the deputy, who used to be chairman of committee on the budget and taxation of the State Duma of the 3rd convocation, "the present strengthening of the ruble is of positive nature." Mr. Zhukov believes, that the 15% strengthening of ruble against dollar was to some degree balanced by its 12% weakening against the Euro.

    When answering one of journalists question concerning the Euro rate this year, Mr. Zhukov said that the situation with Euro is less predictable, but probably the rate of Euro will remain at more or less the same level.

    "It's obvious that the rate figure in the economic forecast for 2004 of 31.4 rubles for a dollar is unlikely to remain at the same level," the deputy believes. According to him, the rate of ruble against dollar will be much higher of the planned annual average indices.

    At the same time, the State Duma Vice-Speaker believes that due to the changes of the ruble rate against main currencies, it is not necessary to introduce amendments to the budget and basics of the credit-monetary policy.

    In Mr. Zhukov's opinion, this year Russian Central Bank's policy concerning the prevention of the inflation will remain the same and the Central Bank will not allow the drastic shifts of ruble rate against dollar. "At the present moment the Russian economy experiences the decrease of the Russian ruble dependency on the US dollar. This can be proved in particular by people's preferences in the sphere of banking deposits," the Deputy concluded.

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