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Russia: Text Of Yeltsin's Address To Parliament

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 stated firmly.

"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 said.

"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 State Duma.

"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 practice.

"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 decisions."