Government 'to do its best' to privatize Rosneft in 2016: Russian Economy Minister

August 22, 2016 8:14 AM EDT

Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with members of Russian Direct Investment Fund and foreign investors in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor - RTX2GN8P

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SHCHETINKA, Russia (Reuters) - Russia's government should do its best to privatize a stake in the nation's largest oil producer Rosneft this year, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Monday.

"Taking into account the attractiveness of this asset and keeping in mind that this would allow us to resolve to a large extent the problem of the budget deficit, I believe a sale of part of Rosneft will be a priority project now," Ulyukayev told journalists on a visit to the Kursk Region in central Russia.

"We should do our best to do it in 2016."

He also said that it was technically possible to privatize mid-sized oil company Bashneft at the end of 2016 or in 2017, if there was "a political decision".

(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; writing by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Polina Devitt)

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