Top Russian officials yesterday gave conflicting versions as to just how soon — and to whom — the government planned to make payments to clear up the Defense Ministry’s huge debts to its employees and suppliers. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was quoted as saying that Boris Yeltsin had instructed him to pay "all debts" to the military in July and August, while unnamed Kremlin officials said the government had been ordered to pay all military back wages within two to three months. For his part, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said all debts to the military would be paid in three to four months. Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Russian Duma’s Social and Labor Policy Committee, had a pessimistic assessment of the whole situation. He said that the government would only incur more debt as it paid the wages owed to the armed forces. "Wage arrears are impossible to repay," he said, "they are too big." (Russian media and Reuter, July 1)
Russian Public Has Low Faith in Institutions.