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State debt to pass $US 20 billion by 2010

Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has been defending plans to increase Russia's national debt over the next three years.

Speaking at a briefing, Kudrin said Russia's net debt will reach U.S. $15 billion next year and will exceed U.S. $20 billion  by 2010 .

Kudrin insisted that this level of borrowing was not high, saying it was important as a non-inflationary source of funding.

“This is reasonably conservative planning of the state debt policy and it will be used to re-finance current debt and provide the source of funding,” he said.