After signing the 2004 draft budget, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin explained its contents to a Kommersant analyst. When explaining how it differs from previous budgets, the minister said that the budget had been drawn up with consideration for lower taxes. The Finance Ministry is intending to create a stabilisation fund to replace the current financial reserve. Incomes from high oil prices will not be used to pay back foreign debt, but will go towards easing the tax burden. The budget has been drawn up with account for higher wages for public sector workers and servicemen, as well as for increases in student allowances.
The ruble's real exchange rate against the dollar in January-July of this year increased by more than 12%. At the same time, the ruble's real strengthening (in the currency basket) for the first seven months of the year exceeded 4%. "This is good for the population, but, obviously, has a negative effect on industry," said Minister for Trade and Economic Development German Gref. According to him, the government is going to look for a compromise between consumers and producers.
After being closed in the USA, the Caucasus-Centre site of Chechen separatists is now up and running again. However, this time it is being operated for the second time this year from Lithuania. Lithuanian deputies and advocates of human rights have begun to support the Chechen militants' rights, whose leader, Shamil Basayev, has been put on the international wanted list by the US authorities. The state security bodies of the Baltic republic, which is going to join the European Union and is seeking Nato membership, are so far not hurrying to bring an end to the militants' news bureau's work. Russia is hoping that hackers, who downed the terrorists' site last year, will be able to repeat their feat.
"From dusk till dawn no free schoolchildren will be seen," writes the paper in reporting that 219 Moscow schools will change their timetables to a full school day from September 1. The school day will last until 18:30, while some establishments will work until 21:00. This idea should eradicate the sight of children on the streets. Pupils will attend their usual classes in the morning, and then in the afternoon will do their homework and study in circles and groups.