Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 40

The confusion caused by Yeltsin’s unpredictable behavior distracted attention from the tough report delivered at yesterday’s meeting by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. Chernomyrdin announced that the government intends to make still further cuts in the 1998 federal budget. The budget has not yet been approved by the Duma, which last week balked at the deep spending cuts the government wanted to make at that time. The Duma will like the new version even less when it debates it on March 4.

Speaking yesterday, Chernomyrdin said the government intends to cut a further 50 billion rubles ($8.3 billion) from the draft. This amounts to a cut of about ten percent more than those presently planned. (Reuter, February 26) Moreover, Chernomyrdin ruled out the possibility that the government will make compromises with the Communist-dominated Duma in order to get its draft approved. He not only ruled out the idea of relaxing the budget’s austerity measures, but said he would not "appease" the opposition by bringing their representatives into the government on grounds of anything other than merit. Finally, Chernomyrdin said he would urge Yeltsin to veto the budget if the Duma approved it without the government’s spending cuts. "Passing an unrealistic budget makes no sense," he declared. Chernomyrdin was backed up on this by Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, who said that the current budget laws require twice as much as the budget can realistically provide and that "something must be done" to reduce the budget from "this quagmire." (NTV, February 26)

Yeltsin Praises Russia’s Emerging Middle Class.