In a pre-recorded address broadcast to the nation on the evening of December 31, President Boris Yeltsin pledged that living standards in Russia would rise in 1996. According to the Russian president, in 1995 the fall in output had almost ended and there had been successes in the fight against inflation. Yeltsin promised that the government would start repaying overdue wages and pensions "from the beginning of January" and put members of the government on notice that they would be fired if they did not begin to effect those repayments. He also held out an increase in expenditures for social protection and possibly the indexation of bank deposits in 1996. The 64-year-old president appeared trimmer and healthier in his television appearance than he had in months. (9)
Yeltsin made no direct reference to the Chechnya war even though New Year’s Eve was the anniversary of the bloody storming of Grozny by government tanks one year ago. Yeltsin’s New Year’s resolution appears to promise at least some social protection measures and to sound the theme of economic recovery in a bid for re-election next June. If the economy does rebound in 1996, as more than a few independent analysts believe will occur, the president may be able to win back many disgruntled older voters who largely backed the Communists in the December parliamentary elections.
Yeltsin to Visit China, Tries to Deflect Criticism by Pledging "Balance".