Although he described the protocol drafted yesterday by First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and representatives of the picketing defense industry workers as a document containing "positive answers" to workers’ demands, union official Yury Spichenok said that the five-day protest action would be continued — and might even be extended. According to Spichenok, Nemtsov also promised to draft a presidential decree which would ease the financial problems of the defense enterprises. Spichenok noted, however, that neither of these documents had been signed, nor had the method of financing the 1998 defense order been resolved. The union official indicated that the protest actions would continue until all these issues have been resolved by the government. (RIA Novosti, September 24)
After the meeting, Nemtsov admitted that the government had "huge obligations" to the defense complex. He said that a schedule would be worked out to repay over the next four months the 3 trillion rubles still owed for 1996. The government would then look to funding current programs: 12.6 trillion rubles in procurement and more than 6 trillion rubles for research and development. (Radio Mayak, September 24)
Poverty in Russia Shows Slight Decline.