Russia Revives Privatization

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MOSCOW -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has presided over a doubling of the Kremlin's ownership of big business, on Tuesday signaled a return to more private ownership as the country faces its first budget deficit in a decade.

The verbal shift toward selling off shares, which follows years of increasing government control that began when Mr. Putin served as president, comes amid Russia's first recession since it defaulted on its debt in 1998.

Russia had privatized Soviet enterprises earlier in the 1990s, under Boris Yeltsin.

"Russia will remain a liberal market economy," Mr. Putin said at an investor conference here, adding that the government will press on with privatization and reduce the state's role in the economy.

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