President Boris Yeltsin on July 25 ordered the government to sell off a 5 percent stake in Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas producer, in order to boost state revenues. The state owns a 40 percent stake in the company, of which it directly administers only 5 percent while the rest is managed on the state’s behalf by Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev. In order to ensure that the state remains the largest shareholder in Gazprom, Yeltsin instructed the government to ensure that the state’s holding does not fall below 35 percent. (Itar-Tass, July 25) Vyakhirev yesterday urged the government to invite Gazprom’s strategic partners, Royal Dutch Shell and ENI, to buy the shares. He said this would ensure that the state got the best possible price. (ORT, July 27)
Yeltsin also ordered 50 percent cuts in the price of gas and electricity for companies that pay at least half of their energy bills in cash. (Itar-Tass, July 25)
JOINT COMMAND EXERCISE UNDERWAY ON CHECHEN BORDER.