The Russian media is dissecting Viktor Chernomyrdin’s October 13 address to the State Duma, especially its self-critical tone. "We are not very satisfied." said Chernomyrdin of his government’s performance in the first nine months of 1995, even though there have been signs of progress. The good news is that the Gross National Product has fallen by just 3 percent as opposed to the 12 percent decline posted for the same period last year. Inflation is also down from 18 percent in January to its current 4.5 percent. But, said Chernomyrdin, this is not enough. (2)
Cynics are noting that Chernomyrdin did not congratulate himself for the positive side of the ledger. Some observers feel that Chernomyrdin is desperate to rescue his image and that of his party, "Russia is Our Home," which has fallen behind the Communist Party and other political groups in pre-election polls. If this is the case, it might be bad PR to boast of the economy’s improving trends while much of the population is still miserable. (3) The prime minister, it seems, is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
Other highlights from his speech included a promise to set up a fund to compensate victims of fraudulent investment schemes. He also vowed to raise defense spending, in what sounded like pandering to the nationalist right. Later, before a group of pensioners, Chernomyrdin pledged to raise salaries in the state sector and to work toward a unified pension payment system that might result in a doubling of income for some pensioners. (4)
Vorkuta Miners’ Action Continues.