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Wolfensohn: Putin Committed To Economic Reform

Moscow, 21 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- World Bank President James Wolfensohn today said he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is committed to pursuing economic reform in the wake of the Yukos affair.

Speaking in Moscow, where he met with Putin, Wolfensohn said that to his knowledge the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovskii, the former chief of oil giant Yukos, has not signalled a change in Russia's commitment to market reforms.

"I do not believe that President Putin is changing his direction, personally, but it doesn't matter so much what I think, it is the way in which this thing [regarding Yukos] emerges and how it is handled, and I think we will see that as we go forward," he said.

Wolfensohn said he is confident Putin can modernize Russia's economy and streamline social services. The head of the World Bank said there is no "mystery" about what Putin needs to do to bring about such reforms. He said the question is doing it.

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