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Russia: Yeltsin Criticizes Duma

Moscow, 27 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today criticized the Russian Duma, saying its members have not been willing to back necessary reforms.

In a nationwide radio address, Yeltsin accused deputies of being afraid to take responsibility for supporting what he called "vitally important measures."

The Duma, dominated by the communist-led opposition, began a summer recess earlier this week after rejecting several measures designed to cut spending. The government had said the cuts were needed to reduce Russia's deficit.

Yeltsin seemed today to reiterate earlier comments by government officials that he will go forward with the cuts regardless of the Duma's failure to support them.

Yeltsin's address focused largely on the concerns of Russia's elderly. He vowed that his government will make sure that funds recently sent to the regions to pay for pension arrears reaches retirees. Yeltsin said some local authorities might wish to use the money for other needs but warned any effort to do so would be punished. He also promised gradual reform of the pension system.