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Russia: Yeltsin Wants State Housing Subsidies Reduced

Moscow, 12 May 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin today called for sweeping housing reforms that include a gradual increase in traditionally low prices for housing and utilities.

Yeltsin said the move would cut the enormous amount of state subsidies that now go for housing. He said the government could no longer afford to pay housing subsidies that last year totaled about $21 billion. Backed by the International Monetary Fund, Moscow wants to scrap across-the-board subsidies by the year 2003 and replace the system with rent supports for the poor.

Yeltsin told Russian Public Television that housing subsidies are currently being distributed "ineffectively and unjustly."

The government also is seeking to cut utility charges for industrial users while raising them for domestic users.