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    Russian economy can rival U.S., Germany in decade - minister

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    "We would like to create a system that will match the economic and financial strengths of the United States and Germany," Alexei Kudrin said in an interview with Russia's TV Channel One.

    MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia can create an economy as strong as that of the United States or Germany in 10 years, the finance minister said Sunday.

    "We would like to create a system that will match the economic and financial strengths of the United States and Germany," Alexei Kudrin said in an interview with Russia's TV Channel One.

    "I must say, it could be done in about 10 years if we follow a very rational financial policy," the minister said.

    The lower chamber of the Russian parliament approved Friday in a first reading a 2007 federal budget that envisions a 25% increase in government spending, year-on-year, to 5.46 trillion rubles ($205 billion), and a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles ($55 billion).

    Kudrin said that between 2000 and 2006, Russia passed through eight stages in the system of ratings assigned by the global ratings agencies, from the lowest rating, indicating financial crisis, to an investment-grade rating, which the country was assigned last year.

    "Seven steps remain to be taken to reach the highest rating that developed nations, such as the U.S., France and Germany, enjoy," Kudrin said. "It is an ambitious task to reach this rating, but Russia is capable of accomplishing it."

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