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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Tells Deputies to Beat Deadline

President Vladimir Putin urged the government and the State Duma on Monday to push on with laws to reform the economy before the current session of parliament ends Saturday.

He got a boost when a key Duma committee backed fast-track approval of a currency liberalization law and from cautious approval for his plans from the head of the World Bank.

Putin, who has been praised for economic reforms but criticized by rights groups for a war in Chechnya and alleged crackdowns on independent media, has launched broad changes to keep the economy on a growth track.

"I ask the government that the plan for the spring session [of parliament] be fulfilled to the end," he was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling a Kremlin meeting with Cabinet members, including Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

The current session of the Duma is due to end July 14, having already been extended for around three weeks.

One key law the deputies have yet to pass is to liberalize the foreign exchange market by cutting the amount of money exporting companies have to repatriate in hard currency sales. Putin wants to cut the level to 50 percent of earnings from the current 75 percent.

The Duma's powerful budget committee recommended that deputies pass the new rules in three readings at once, rather than over three different sessions, as is usual.

The Duma will decide Tuesday which day the currency rules will be discussed and voted on.

Parliament also has still to approve laws linked to a proposed reform of the Soviet-era pension system whereby some contributions will be channeled to investments.

Legislation on cutting red tape and bureaucracy is also under consideration.

"For the whole recent period the government has worked intensively, and this is giving good results. Everyone is tired. The Russian parliament has also not worked so much for many years," Putin said.

World Bank head James Wolfensohn, visiting St. Petersburg for a conference on law and judicial reform, gave a cautious thumbs-up to the reforms being carried out.

"One must read what [Putin] says. These six priorities which he set out [in an address to parliament] and the direction in which he is moving are very effective and sensible," Wolfensohn told a news conference.

The six priorities mentioned by Putin in a state of the nation address in March included reforms of the legal system, less red tape and allowing the free sale and purchase of land.