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    RUSSIA READY TO PAY OFF ITS DEBT TO BULGARIA BEFORE END OF 2004

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    MOSCOW, February 2. /RIA Novosti correspondent Yevgenya Yakut/. Russia is prepared to solve the problem of its debt to Bulgaria by paying it off with money by the end of 2004, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

    "As there is no one to wish to receive payment in goods, we can pay with money as well, and on the same terms," the Deputy Prime Minister said after a meeting with Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics Lidia Shuleva.

    According to Kudrin, this is to be preceded by settling of a number of technical matters, in keeping with the Russian-Bulgarian protocol on debt settlement.

    "There are a few technical problems that the Bulgarian side is to solve," Kudrin said.

    He assured that the protocol on debt repayment and the schedule of paying it off will be implemented by Russia in full measure. "Before the end of 2004 the debts must be fully repaid," he stressed.

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