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    RUSSIA TO PRESERVE COURSE FOR LIBERAL REFORMS, SAYS ECONOMIC MINISTER

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    MOSCOW, February 4, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Natalia Byrkina) - The post-election Russia will preserve its course for liberal reforms, Russian Economic Development Minister German Gref has announced.

    "The vector of the incumbent team and the incumbent president will be liberal. There is no reason to reconsider the vector of reform under the present Russian authorities," he said at the 5th annual investment conference held by the US Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

    According to Gref, the government is already preparing a package of laws "for the four years of the President's next term". "The President has set the task to significantly increase the reform pace against previous years," he pointed out.

    Now the country has created "more favorable conditions for conducting reforms," the minister emphasized. "We have a qualified majority of allies and colleagues in the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament)," he said. At the same time, the State Duma "should not be viewed as a tool that will make decisions automatically," Gref underlined. "We see their serious opponents and serious professionals," he added.

    At the same time, the minister believes that the new parliament's professional level is higher than that of the previous, State Duma of the 3rd convocation.

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