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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin, Wolfensohn Discuss $800M in Loans for Budget

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President Vladimir Putin and World Bank President James Wolfensohn discussed future loans to Russia at talks in St. Petersburg over the weekend.

Putin said Saturday that the 2001 budget assumes a $800 million in proposed loans from the World Bank, news agencies reported.

But he also promised that Russia would seek to avoid relying too heavily on foreign debt like it did in the 1990s. Russia is the International Monetary Fund’s biggest borrower and has struggled to pay off its foreign debts.

The World Bank has been among Russia’s most eager lenders, and this year was the first to offer money to Russia after Putin’s election in March, a $60 million loan to the forestry industry.

Putin, speaking to reporters, praised the State Duma for passing the government’s 2001 budget in the first reading Friday. The draft, which proposes the first balanced budget since the 1991 Soviet collapse, must go through three more readings in the State Duma.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin also took part in the talks with the World Bank chief. He said Putin told Wolfensohn about the progress of World Bank projects in Russia and the two discussed the tumultuous recent IMF and World Bank conference in Prague.

The World Bank has launched nearly 50 projects in Russia, worth a total of $11 billion, since 1992.

Putin was in St. Petersburg, his home town, to celebrate his 48th birthday on Saturday. He and Wolfensohn attended the season opening of the renowned Mariinsky Theater, formerly the Kirov, on Saturday night.