Russia's 2003 budget will be put together with lower oil prices in mind, Russia's economy having internal reserves to assure cash inflow. This is according to the statement made at the 5th Russian Economic Forum in London by Alexei Kudrin, Russia's Minister of Finance. According to the Governmental Department of Information, the minister said Russia's government intended to consistently work to lower the dependence of the country's economy on oil prices. Mr. Kudrin said also the government counted on the further positive economic effect of the further reforms, adding, 'Economy will grow more stable and more oriented toward the internal factors of growth, such as consumer demand and local investments'. The minister emphasised the importance of the banking reform. He said, 'The arrival to the Central Bank of Russia of the new managerial team must advance the banking reform and strengthen the banking system'. Mr. Kudrin said the government would continue its policies directed to the lightening of tax burden on all companies. As to Russia's joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Vice-Prime Minister said, 'Russia's government is expecting, before this year is over, more clarity in the talks concerning our joining this organisation'
A Russian fighter with call sign Rassvet (Sunrise) destroyed an Abrams tank in the area of Avdiivka, the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade said