MOSCOW (AP) - Russia will pour over $1 billion into equipment for nanotechnology research over the next three years as it uses massive oil and gas export earnings to diversify an economy now heavily dependent on raw materials, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday.
''(Nanotechnology) is a very promising scientific and technical field, capable of fundamentally changing the model of the Russian economy ... from a fuel economy to an economy of the future,'' Ivanov said after a meeting Wednesday at the Kurchatov nuclear and scientific research institute, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin.
Nanotechnology is an emerging field that works with microscopic particles the size of atoms.
Ivanov, considered a possible candidate for Kremlin support to replace Putin after the presidential election next March, said Putin had chosen him to head a council that will supervise spending on the nanotechnology effort under a program being developed by the government.
He said spending would amount to $1.1 billion over the next three years.
Since the start of Putin's presidency in 2000, Russia has earned an estimated $750 billion from oil and gas sales, according to Moscow-based Alfa Bank. Putin has repeatedly stressed the importance of freeing the economy from its dependence on commodities markets and turning it toward a more high-tech, knowledge-based model.
''Russia's economic potential has been restored, the possibilities for major scientific research are opening up,'' Putin said. ''The concentration of our resources should stimulate the development of new technologies in our country. This will be key also from the point of view of the creation of the newest, modern and supereffective weapons systems.''
Ivanov predicted that 90 percent of nanotechnology developments would be used for civilian purposes and 10 percent for military purposes.
The nanotechnology effort will be coordinated vat the Kurchatov institute, Ivanov said.