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Russia: Leningrad Seeks To Collect Back Taxes

St. Petersburg, 13 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The government of Leningrad Oblast has announced the formation of an "emergency commission" to collect derelict taxes, totalling about $90 million, or roughly one-fourth of total budget revenues for the region.

Topping the list of ten delinquent enterprises was the beleaguered Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LAES) in Sosnovy Bor, but the troubled plant was recently removed from the "black list" by the commission.

A spokesperson for the Leningrad Oblast Tax Inspector's office, contacted by RFE/RL's St. Petersburg correspondent, said only,"LAES was removed from the list due to its social significance." The spokesperson refused to give her name or elaborate further.

Last month wage arrears at LAES, totalling nearly $5 million, sparked a week-long protest fast by ten employees responsible for monitoring the plant's four reactors and raised serious safety concerns. The strike ended on December 7, one day before 382 more of the nearly 8,000 workers at the plant threatened to join the work stoppage.

Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Bolshakov has requested that the Federal Energy Ministry find about $360 million to support Russia's nuclear energy plants, which he praised as already having made a steady adaptation to the free market.