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Russia: Yeltsin Meets New Finance Minister

Moscow, 24 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin held talks with the new finance minister today for the first time since his appointment. Yeltsin and Mikhail Zadornov discussed the government's draft 1998 budget, due to be considered by the Duma on December 5, as well as the government's new proposed tax code. Yeltsin admitted to reporters that some of the State Duma's recent criticism of government economic policies was justified.

Yeltsin also held talks with Russia's Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Mikhail Fradkov. Speaking after the meeting, Yeltsin told journalists that Russia had made great political progress in improving its relations with China and Japan. But he said the recent political breakthroughs with those countries was not being followed by a rapid improvement in trade. He also criticized Fradkov for being unable to halt a drop in trade among countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In related economic news, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said today he is resigning from his post. It is not yet clear when the resignation is to take effect. No reason was given.

Shatalov spent most of the past five years drafting a new tax code which has yet to be passed by the State Duma, despite numerous government efforts to get it approved.

The report of Shatalov's departure comes just days after Zadornov took over as Russia's new finance minister, replacing Anatoly Chubais.