Russian leaders are smart to try to avoid a devaluation of the ruble, which would only deepen the country's economic crisis, a top International Monetary Fund official said Sunday.

Martin Gilman, head of the agency's Moscow office, praised Russian leaders for their efforts to dig their country out of its economic troubles and said the fund would make a decision on a bailout loan shortly.Russia wants at least $10 billion from the IMF to build its Central Bank reserves. The funds are needed to back up government bonds and prevent a run on the ruble.

Russia's stock market has lost about half its value since the beginning of the year, and the Central Bank has been using hard currency reserves to hold the ruble steady.