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Russian prime minister allocates funds for Euro 2008 bid

© Reuters 2002

MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov has allocated 1.6 million Swiss francs ($1.1 million) to his country's bid to host the 2008 European football championships, the official government newspaper said on Saturday.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta said Kasyanov issued an order freeing the funds, equivalent to the estimated costs of preparing a bid.

"This is the first time Russian authorities have openly backed the idea of staging a football tournament of this scale in the country," the newspaper said.

The government threw its support behind the bid last May after initially hesitating.

Experts estimate the project could cost Russian taxpayers a minimum $1 billion.

Kasyanov expressed his dismay last June after a rampage in Moscow by youths who had attended a public screening of Russia's World Cup defeat by Japan.

The prime minister said the incident could jeopardise the country's bid after one young fan died.

Europe's football governing body UEFA has also received joint bids from Scotland and Ireland, Austria and Switzerland, Turkey and Greece, and Bosnia and Croatia.

Hungary have submitted the only other solo bid while there has also been a four-nation bid from Scandinavia.

UEFA's final decision is expected on December 12.

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