Moscow, 30 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - A senior IMF official expressed optimism today about progress made by Russia in implementing economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund. Gerard Belanger was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying the government and the Central Bank had made fairly good progress in pushing through some tougher economic measures demanded by the IMF. A mission of IMF experts arrived yesterday in Moscow to review Russia's performance before the IMF decides next month on the release of much-needed funds. The IMF froze all assistance to Russia in the wake of last August's financial and economic crisis. It has since tentatively agreed to release fresh loans worth $4.5 billion over 18 months but in exchange has insisted that parliament approve around 30 austerity measures. Most of the measures have already won passage in the State Duma. The IMF money is vital if Russia is to avoid default on maturing loans from the fund. A deal would also release loans from Japan and the World Bank and will help Russia restructure its huge foreign debt.