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#4 - JRL 7206
Sixty billion rubles spent on St. Petersburg festivities

ST. PETERSBURG. June 2 (Interfax-Northwest) - Almost 60 billion rubles have been spent over three years on preparations for St. Petersburg's tricentennial, presidential envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Valentina Matviyenko told reporters on Monday.

"Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Vyazalov told me this figure. It includes funds from federal coffers and investments made by ministries and other authorities," she said.

Matviyenko said the sum is comparable to the city budget, which stood at about 58 billion rubles in 2002, and at 75 billion rubles this year.

Speaking of the city's development plans, she said repairs and restoration of facilities controlled by the federal government will continue.

"The president gave instructions to the government, ministries and authorities not to slacken the speed of restoring the historical part of the city, because there is an understanding that we have only removed the upper layer, and there are many more problems," Matviyenko said.

"The volume of funding for the remainder of this year and the funding included in the 2004 budget are now being discussed," she added.

Teams of builders, restoration experts and gardeners were formed while preparing for the festivities, Matviyenko said. "We cannot lose this potential. We should not let these people go, but give them more work," she said, noting that she will find time to discuss other city problems with the governor of St. Petersburg.

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