Russia Insists On Alternative Currencies

    Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged foreign businessmen Friday to invest in Russia, promising to remove bureaucratic hurdles, and called for currencies besides the dollar to be used as reserves amid "uncontrolled" U.S. debt.

   "Russia's economy is totally underinvested," and state spending alone is not enough to support a recovery, Putin said at an international investment forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, which is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

   Russia's economy has been hurt by a deep slump in commodity prices and a credit squeeze. Russian stock markets have lost nearly 30 percent of their value since August 2008 as oil and commodities prices took a hit.

   Putin said he "appreciated" that even in the crisis-hit first half of the year, $17 billion of foreign investment was transferred to Russia and pledged to take steps to "streamline the banking sector and stock market" to make them more attractive for foreign businesses.

   "We will step up our efforts to get rid of the administrative barriers," he said. "Russia is open for foreign investment."

   Russia's prime minister also used the floor to chide the United States for "an uncontrolled issue of dollars" and described the U.S. dollar's dominance on currency markets as "one of the triggers" of the global downturn

   Putin renewed Russia's call on the U.S. administration and global community to give the green light to alternative reserve currencies: "If there are several reserve currencies, this will not harm the U.S. economy in any way."

   Putin urged American businessmen to press the U.S. government to scrap restrictions on trade and technology imports to Russia. He said Moscow expects the U.S. to give clearance for World Trade Organization membership for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

   Russia has spent years trying to get the U.S. to scrap a handful of restrictive laws on bilateral trade, including a Cold War-era legislation that has been a key irritant in relations between Moscow and Washington.

   On the domestic side, Putin echoed government optimism that Russia is emerging from recession, reported by The Associated Press.

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