WASHINGTON -- The International Monetary Fund said yesterday that it had endorsed Russia's economic reform plan, paving the way for Moscow to receive up to $4 billion in IMF aid over the next year.
IMF officials said Russia could begin receiving loans from the fund as early as May, a move that will place the Russian economy to some extent under the stewardship of the IMF.
To qualify for the aid, Moscow still would be required to meet certain conditions including stringent targets to control the inflation rate and budget deficit.
The decisions bring Moscow to the verge of membership in the International Monetary Fund, a major step toward eventual integration of the Russian economy with the West.
IMF officials said they expect Russia and most of the other 14 former Soviet republics to join the fund late this month. Aid to the republics aside from Russia could total about $2.3 billion over the next year.
Altogether, Russia and the other former republics could qualify for as much as $18 billion in IMF aid over the next three years. But this sum is contingent on an increase in international support for the fund, including a $12 billion contribution from the United States.
President Bush is expected to announce today a large-scale aid package to help Russia and the other republics. Administration officials say the package will include a request to Congress to authorize the additional $12 billion contribution to the IMF.
The White House and Congress have hesitated to push for the money in an election year when foreign aid of any kind is considered unpopular.