The Russian government is to meet today to consider the draft federal budget for 1999. In a moment of candor, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told journalists that getting the Duma to accept the government’s package of stabilization measures would be child’s play compared with the struggle he anticipates over the 1999 budget. He said the draft was “very tough” and that, while in previous years the government had been prepared to “soften it up” to get the budget through parliament, this year, no concessions would be possible. President Yeltsin has instructed the government to submit the draft budget to the Duma by August 26. (Itar-Tass, August 10; RTR, August 11) Rejection of the government’s draft budget by the Duma would not in itself provide the president with the right to dissolve the Duma, but it might put the Duma in a position in which it had little alternative other than to express no confidence in the government. If the Duma does that twice within three months, the Constitution gives the president the choice of dismissing the government or dissolving the Duma.
NO CHANGE IN MOSCOW’S KOSOVO POLICY.