Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko is today reported to have ordered the seizure of the assets of the gas monopoly, Gazprom, for failure to pay its latest tax bill of US$400 million. Kirienko also called for the replacement of Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev. The move is clearly intended as a signal that the government is serious about improving its tax collection record, though Gazprom complains that it cannot pay its taxes because it is in turn owed huge amounts of money by consumers. (BBC, July 2)
MOSCOW APPLAUDS CHINESE-U.S. SUMMIT.