Russian president Boris Yeltsin has rescinded a widely criticized presidential decree that was supposed to close off loopholes for tax evasion. (Itar-Tass, September 6) But critics said the decree itself was full of holes and that, by threatening depositors with double or even triple taxation, the decree would merely drive their savings offshore. The decree, which was signed by Yeltsin on August 18, had been hastily drafted by Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits in anticipation of a visit to Moscow by an IMF team checking into tax collection. Its publication gave rise to a torrent of complaints from bankers, businessmen and the reform-oriented press. Its cancellation follows intervention by presidential Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Chubais and First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin, a former banker. Both men were abroad on vacation when the decree was published. Few observers expected Chubais to be able to keep the vow he made when he became Yeltsin’s chief-of-staff, to leave the management of the economy to the government, but his intervention on this occasion was particularly blatant and has given rise to considerable criticism in the Russian media. Potanin’s involvement has also provoked criticism. "Potanin, who was expected to come out with some new and original ideas for getting the economy out of crisis, has turned out to be just another lobbyist. In this respect the former Uneximbank chief does not differ in any way from members of industrial lobby groups who are heavily overrepresented in the government and the presidential staff as it is," complained Nezavisimaya gazeta on September 10.
Uzbekistan and Georgia, Wary of CIS Military Bloc, Sign Bilateral Agreements.