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Russia: IMF Reaches Conditional Agreement On $22.6 Billion Bailout

Moscow, 13 July 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Kremlin officials say they have secured a $22.6 billion loan package over the next two years aimed at supporting the ruble and preventing economic collapse. But officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, who will disburse most of the money, say Russia still has to meet several conditions before the tentative agreement is finalized. The IMF board will not approve the first loan payment until Russia's parliament approves a government austerity plan.

Anatoly Chubais, Moscow's chief loan negotiator, told a Moscow news conference that the package will include $14.8 billion of disbursements this year and $7.8 billion next year.

But IMF negotiator John Odling-Smee said at the same news conference that the IMF board will not provide the first $5.6 billion tranche of the bailout until Russia's parliament approves a government austerity plan. That program, which includes new tax laws and spending cuts, is expected to be considered by the Duma on Wednesday. The IMF board is scheduled to meet next on Monday.

Meanwhile, the World Bank issued a statement saying that negotiations for its $1.5 billion share of the package will continue for several more days. World Bank President James Wolfensohn said its portion of the loan package would focus on creating more transparency and fiscal accountability within the government, as well as eliminating tax arrears.