Currently, Russia is characterised by significant political stability and it hopes to integrate into the world economy, Mikhail Kasyanov, Prime Minister of Russia, said Monday as he was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Days of Russian Economy at the international industrial fair in Hannover, a major European fair. Making an assessment of the economic situation in Russia, Mr. Kasyanov stressed that 2000 was the most successful of the past few years. Thus, the GDP grew by 7.5 percent, investment, by 9.5 percent, and household incomes, 10 percent. Intense saturation of the economy with money and the ousting of barter are underway. Positive trends continued into the first quarter of this year. By the Russian premier's estimates, industrial production in the past three months has increased by 3.6 percent, the GDP by 4 percent, and incomes by 3.5 percent. At the same time, Mr. Kasyanov pointed out a high level of inflation in the country, which, according to him, depends on the non-monetary factor and the growth in tariffs of natural monopolies and utilities. Mr. Kasyanov stressed that the Russian budget has been executed with a surplus for three consecutive years and that the debt burden has shrunk from 150 percent of GDP in 1998 to 60 percent now. "This meets European standards," Mr. Kasyanov noted. At the same time, according to the Russian premier, the most important factor of the national economic upswing will be natural monopolies' restructuring, and judicial, tax, land and pension reforms, which are expected to enable Russia to reach world standards. The Russian economy is gaining momentum, and Russian business consolidation is underway, which inspires hope for attracting heavier investment in the national economy and, as a result, integrating into the world community, Kasyanov stressed.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin would never fall to the level of personal insults, Kremlin official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said