The Russian government tried yesterday to ward off the influence of "Asian flu" and reassure jittery investors about the health of Russia’s economy. Deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Sergei Aleksashenko, and Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov both insisted that Russia’s tax collection performance is on the upswing. Zadornov said that last month the government collected taxes amounting to 9.5 billion of a 10 billion ruble target. Aleksashenko said the Central Bank was prepared to raise interest rates still further in order to support the ruble. (Itar-Tass, February 2; Financial Times, February 3) Several prominent Russian politicians, including the leader of the pro-government "Russia is Our Home" parliamentary faction, Aleksandr Shokhin, have warned that recent rate hikes could undermine the federal budget.
Russian Defense Official Holds Talks in China.