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Russia: Government Starts Paying Arrears

Moscow, 8 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said today that in the first quarter of this year his government has paid pensions and salaries on time and started paying off huge wage and pension arrears.

Chernomyrdin spoke in a live radio broadcast after meeting earlier today with President Boris Yeltsin, to report on payment of wages and collection of taxes.

At the meeting, broadcast in part on Russian television, Yeltsin publicly criticized Chernomyrdin for the government's continuing failure to collect taxes or settle long-running wage and pension debts.

Saying only 42 percent of the planned amount of taxes were collected in March, Yeltsin also demanded that the government finish work soon on new tax legislation aimed at regulating Russia's tax system.

Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky announced today that Yeltsin had accepted the resignation of Energy Minister Pyotr Rodionov.

Yastrzhembsky told journalists Rodionov's resignation had been discussed at Yeltsin's meeting today with Chernomyrdin. He also said other personnel changes would be announced later.