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    RUSSIA SET TO REPAY ITS IMF DEBTS IN ADVANCE

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    WASHINGTON, April 23, (RIA Novosti) - The IMF (International Monetary Fund) is reacting positively to Russia's intention to repay its IMF debts ahead of schedule.

    One can only hail ahead-of-schedule debt payments when a country's solvency exceeds projected loan-period levels, David Owen, who heads the IMF's department for Russia, told RIA Novosti.

    Washington is to host a two-day IMF and World Bank session Saturday and Sunday. Russia's Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin will also take part in the session's work.

    The Russian Finance Ministry estimates the country's IMF debts at some $6.5 billion, also studying the possibility of repaying such debts in 2006, rather than 2008, as had initially been planned.

    According to Owen, Russia-IMF relations were elevated to another level, after the country stopped borrowing IMF monies.

    Russia-IMF relations revolved around Russian economic problems in the early 1990s. Russia has now stopped borrowing money; its economic situation was enhanced, as well. Consequently, the national leadership was able to focus on other problems and to more actively discuss global economic problems within the IMF framework, Owen added.

    The IMF report, which was circulated on the eve of the joint World Bank - IMF session, notes that Russia's economic parameters remain highly promising.

    At the same time, the IMF report notes that Russia must score progress in the field of financial-sector reforms, also overhauling its natural monopolists and civil service; this will make it possible to double the Russian GDP within the next decade and to reduce national dependence on oil.

    Russia had joined the IMF in June 1992.

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