Western Largesse Wows Russian Investors

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Diminished expectations may have helped the IMF rescue Russia's beleaguered economy. "At least on paper, the bailout looks much bigger than anyone expected," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. "Investors' eyes were popping out when they heard the amount." Last week the IMF appeared to be setting the limit of its contribution at $5 billion, while Russia was asking for $12 billion and hinting darkly at possible coup attempts. But the IMF on Monday came through with a $12.5 billion pledge, which was complemented by contributions from other lenders to create a combined infusion of $22.6 billion -- good news for Russia's markets, which jumped almost 10 percent on the news. Says Meier, "If Russia manages to fulfill the conditions attached to the loans, Kiriyenko will have succeeded in averting the crisis -- at least until the end of summer."