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    MOSCOW, February 12, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent). Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the rouble should be made fully convertible. This can be done, he said, on the basis of restored credibility of the national currency.

    Addressing a meeting of authorised representatives, Putin also pointed to the need "to develop the country's financial system so that both enterprises and citizens could benefit from the advantages of a developed market of financial services".

    "A necessary element of development and strengthening of the financial system should be a policy of stimulating citizens' pension savings," Putin said.

    In his view, people are already gaining an understanding that the size of their pension will depend on their own labour contribution and that each citizen has the chance to manage his or her pension savings.

    Moreover, Putin believes, "the state must not only guarantee their savings, but also help to build them up." "The idea is to create mechanisms for financial encouragement of pension insurance by citizens," Putin explained.

    He emphasised that "this question is a very serious one and will be carefully and thoroughly examined."

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