Moscow, 6 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - "Russia has entered the year
1997 with a heavy burden of problems and the situation in the
country is extremely complex, above all as concerns the economy,"
Russian President Boris Yeltsin said in his address to the
Federal Assembly today.
"We have failed to stop the production slump and ensure the
influx of investments. Society's belief in the ability of the
power structures to stop the onslaught of crime is being
undermined. It is ever more difficult to provide the armed forces
with the essentials. The already low standard of living for the
majority of Russian citizens continues to decline. People are
suffering from delays in the payment of wages, pensions and
benefits. All efforts to solve this problem have failed to yield
tangible results," the president said.
He said he regards as "an alarm signal" the intention of
the Russian citizens to take part in the March 27 actions of
protest, "protest largely justified." "It is a sign that the
people's patience has reached its limits," the president said.
Yeltsin said "lack of will, indifference, irresponsibility,
ineptitude and inadequate solutions to the state problems are
today's qualifications of the Russian government," the president
said. "I must admit that it is really so."
"It is the government that is called upon to alleviate the
unavoidable burden of transformations. We have not done so. The
government is waxing fat," the president said. "It is not a
question of rank-and-file civil servants who are working in good
faith for the very modest pay. I am speaking about those high
officials who care only for their own well-being."
"Unfortunately, there are many lovers of 'high-living' at the
state expense in all bodies of power. This is where the root
causes of our problems lie. Having created a new political
system, we have not equipped it with new tools of management and
have not learned to govern in new ways. We are stuck half-way,"
the president said.
"No more, the country must be run by the government and not
by circumstances. It is time to have order. First of all, inside
the power structures. And I will have it," the head of state
"I am not satisfied with the government. The executive power
has proved unable to work without presidential peremptory shouts.
Most of the promises given to the people, particularly as
concerns social questions have not been fulfilled," the president
"I have prepared a package of important and urgent measures.
The structure of the government will change. Competent, energetic
people will join it. I will announce (these changes) within the
next few days.
"But emergency measures are not enough. For this reason we
shall begin to restore order to the entire system of bodies of
state authority, state finances, regulation of the economy, and
the fulfillment of social promises of the state, and we shall do
it this year.
"This year, we shall draft and approve a program of radical
reform of the executive power. Its aim is to radically enhance
the efficiency of the state government.
"I have many rebukes to make with regard to the Federal
Assembly. True, the lawmaking activity has yielded fruit. A new
criminal code, laws on the court system and other important laws
have been promulgated. But the tentative programme of the
lawmaking activity has been fulfilled only by 40 percent by the
"On the whole, the work of parliamentarians continues to lack
a systematic character. One major flaw of the lawmaking is the
promulgation of laws that serve the interests of narrow groups.
Most deputies realize that (such practice) does harm to Russia,
but such laws are passed, nonetheless.
"Great harm to the country is done by the passing of laws
that cannot be implemented. No allocations for them are envisaged
in the budget. The deputies are aware of this, but still insist
on passing laws that require tens of trillions of roubles to
implement. It is strange that the authoritative and experienced
regional leaders -- members of the Federation Council -- often
approve such laws.
"I want you to bear in mind that I will be using without
hesitation my right to veto in order to put an end to such
"The Federal Assembly has only passed one-third of the
necessary constitutional laws but it is already debating
amendments to the Constitution. I am against such haste. Let us
first learn to respect our Constitution, let us learn to live in
compliance with it and to use its full potential, and only then
let us begin thinking about making changes to it after analysing
legal experience and looking for precise and necessary