Moscow, 18 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Interior Minister vowed today to use his newly acquired powers over tax collection and customs to crack down on economic crime.
Anatoly Kulikov told a news conference in Moscow that if the situation was not radically changed, "within two to three years 40 percent of Russia'a economy" would be out of the government's control.
Kulikov pledged to fight tax evasion but said the government planned no emergency measures to enforce payment of taxes. Widespread tax evasion is seen as a prime cause for delayed government payment of wages and pensions to millions of Russians.
Earlier this month President Boris Yeltsin promoted Kulikov to the rank of deputy prime minister and gave him broad new powers over the collection of taxes and customs.
Kulikov also said today he wants parliament to cancel many tax benefits and called for a new tax code. He insisted the crackdown on crime was intended to create a more favorable climate for business, and especially for foreign business.