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Russia: Kulikov Says Yeltsin Authorized Economic Crime Crack Down

Moscow, 13 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Internal Affairs Anatoly Kulikov says President Boris Yeltsin today gave him what he called "carte blanche" to combat economic crime.

Kulikov told Interfax news agency that he met with Yeltsin in the Kremlin for about 40 minutes earlier today. He said Yeltsin had authorized him to take, in his words, "harsh" measures to combat economic crime. However, Kulikov said the struggle against criminal activity would stay within the law.

Kulikov last week was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic security, tax police and the customs service. But he still retains his post as Interior Minister.

Kulikov also said Yeltsin believes it is possible to better coordinate the country's civilian and military structures to fight against economic crime and improve tax collection.

The President's press service later said Yeltsin supported measures to strengthen the discipline of the tax and customs services, in an effort to ensure revenues are met in this year's budget.

Kulikov said Yeltsin was, in his words, "in good working form." Yeltsin has returned to the Kremlin sporadically for meetings during his recovering from pneumonia. The Russian President underwent heart surgery last November.