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    PUTIN'S ADVISER: RUSSIA ECONOMIC POLICY IS FAR FROM LIBERAL

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    ST PETERSBURG, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's economic policy is still far from the real examples of liberalism but is moving in that direction. Today it's "way more liberal" that in the first seven years of the reforms, in 1992-1998, Andrei Illarionov, an economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, said Tuesday.

    He cited the following figures at a press conference in St Petersburg: in 1992, inflation was 2,600%, in 2003, 12%; in 1992 the budget deficit was 40%, and in the last four years, a surplus was observed; in 1992-1998, foreign loans reached $90 billion, while the country's foreign debt has been reducing in the last five years.

    The adviser believes another evidence of the liberalization of Russia's economic policy is the fact that the number of unemployed people has reduced by over 4,000,000 for the last five years, while real wages have grown by several tens percent, in Illarionov's words. A lot of social indices reacted to the increase of the living standard: for example, birth rate started to grow after a long period of fall, said the Kremlin economist.

    "If we pursue a more liberal policy, we will get more impressing results both from the point of view of economic growth and the increase of the standard of well-being, and from the point of view of our social indices," Illarionov said.

    He called "strange" the talks about the crisis of Russian liberalism. "Something that does not exist cannot be in a crisis," said the presidential adviser and added that there are no liberal politicians or parties in the country.

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