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Russia: Yeltsin Declares Market Economy Established

Moscow, 24 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin said today that market economy was established in Russia, but that the role of the state in it had to be enhanced. He also said that 1998 will be a "breakthrough" year of economic growth and called on the Federation Council to approve a new tax code and the 1998 draft budget, seen as crucial for economic recovery.

Yeltsin, in a key address to the Federation Council (parliament's upper house), pledged that the greater role of the state would not mean a return to the Soviet-style central planning.

Yeltsin also warned a handful of powerful Russian banks that the state won't be pushed around.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anatoly Chubais, commenting on Yeltsin address, says that the president was merely talking about the normal role of governments when he said there should be a greater role for the state.

Chubais told reporters in Hong Kong today that in all types of societies, governments must introduce the "rules of the game." Chubais is attending a World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meeting.

Chubais said it is "stupid" for governments to try to be owners or participants in commercial business, but it is equally unacceptable where "large banks or private companies dictate to the government."

He said the question has arisen because now that three-fourths of the economy is in private hands, it is time for the Russian government to find its proper role as rule maker. This does not mean government getting back into ownership or growing larger, he said, but that now it is possible to find the right role of the government in a market economy.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow after his address, Yeltsin lashed out at the Communist-dominated lower house, the State Duma, as a "forum of political anarchy." Defiant, the Duma today overrode a presidential veto on a land code, limiting ownership of farm land in Russia.

Meanwhile another clash between Yeltsin and Parliament seemed near resolution after the Federation Council approved today a controversial bill on religious freedoms. Yeltsin had vetoed an earlier draft of the bill.