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Russia: Moscow Plans To Print 12 Billion Rubles This Year


Moscow, 2 November 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov said today that Moscow plans to print 12 billion rubles by year end to pay overdue wages to soldiers, teachers, doctors and others in the state sector. Maslyukov also said the Kremlin will print more money next year if international lenders don't offer the government new loans. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today said that an economic program announced by Moscow on Saturday does not go far enough to secure the new loans. In a statement, the IMF said "necessary policy measures" are still under consideration. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's program calls for some price controls, the payment of back wages to workers and the revival of Russia's depressed industries. But the IMF has labeled some of the measures as inflationary.

Seeking support from Duma leaders today, Primakov told faction leaders in the lower house of parliament that the government plan aims to ensure provisions for the Russian people and to promote the growth of the economy.

Meanwhile, Russian Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko said today that Russian banks must repay their private debts to foreign creditors when a 90-day moratorium on commercial loan repayments expires later this month.

Gerashchenko said Moscow has no plans on prolonging the freeze, which expires on November 17. The moratorium was imposed by the former government of Sergei Kiriyenko on August 17 to protect Russia's banking system from a de facto ruble devaluation and a government debt default announced the same day.

Also today, Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree that changes the terms of the sale of a 5 percent stake in the gas monopoly Gazprom in an effort to attract more investors to the company. Today's decree amends an August decree ordering the stake to be sold as a single bloc. The 5 percent of shares are now to be sold in smaller units.

The government shelved the prospective sale of the 5-percent stake in August after Russia's financial crisis led to a collapse of the ruble. The stake originally had been valued at about $1.6 billion, but the effective devaluation of the ruble reduced the asking price to about $646 million.
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