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Russia: Duma Rejects Budget Cuts

Moscow, 23 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - The opposition-dominated Russian State Duma today overwhelmingly rejected a government bill to slash spending in this year's budget.

The vote was 210 to 112. The Duma also rejected a plan put forward by the deputies themselves for much smaller cuts in the 1997 budget.

The government, insisting the cuts were necessary to compensate a shortfall in tax revenues, had originally requested cuts of 108 trillion roubles (about $19 billion). Later it agreed to reduce the figure to 88 trillion roubles. Lawmakers however insisted that even that figure should be cut by half. A conciliatory commission set up earlier this month to bridge the differences failed to reach an agreement.

The Duma is due to go into summer recess tomorrow. Government ministers have made clear they will push on with the budget cuts regardless of the outcome of today's vote. After the vote Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov said the government will hold talks with the Duma parties today and tomorrow but that in the absence of an agreement, it will press on alone with the cuts.