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    Russia's 2007 defense bill to exceed $11 bln

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    Russia's defense bill will hit 300 billion rubles ($11.2 billion) in 2007 for Defense Ministry needs alone, the defense minister said Thursday.

    MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense bill will hit 300 billion rubles ($11.2 billion) in 2007 for Defense Ministry needs alone, the defense minister said Thursday.

    "Government spending on defense steadily grows year in and year out, on average by 20%, but 2007 will see a 29% rise, year-on-year, to 300 billion rubles, not to mention spending on the needs of the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service and other law enforcement agencies," Sergei Ivanov told a government defense commission.

    He said the implementation of the state defense program until 2015 has started, which he said requires more than half of the funds earmarked from the budget for defense. The program, which was approved by the government's defense industry commission in June, envisions a comprehensive army and navy overhaul and is a priority budget item.

    "The defense industry will take extra measures to secure the efficient spending of funds and ensure proper technical equipment of the Armed Forces," said Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister.

    He said that given stable budget spending, issues such as planning weapons development and managing the drafting and implementation of defense procurements were coming to the fore. The minister also highlighted the coordination between the military and federal government bodies on defense procurements.

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