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    RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER: RUBLE'S STRENGTHENING NO OBSTRUCTION TO RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH

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    MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - The strengthening of the ruble, which has been observed for about a year, will not obstruct the economic growth of Russia, Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin believes. According to him, Russia benefits from the weak dollar. "International tendencies that can't be changed must be used to our benefit," the Minister disclosed in his interview with the Kommersant business newspaper.

    According to Kudrin, the gradual strengthening of the ruble stimulates enterprises to lower expenses and increase competitiveness of products by means of introduction of high technologies.

    The Minister recalled that last year's strengthening of the ruble in regard to the dollar was estimated at 19%. The Russian economic growth, including the basic growth, which is not connected with oil prices, was in 2003 considerably higher than in the US and in the EU countries, the Russian Finance Minister stressed.

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