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Russia: Prime Minister Promises To Pay State Employees

Moscow, 20 October 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who has yet to come up with a detailed plan to solve his country's economic crisis, today promised to pay wage arrears to state workers by year's end and to cut business taxes to revive industry. The government owes public sector employees some $5.2 billion in back wages.

Primakov did not make clear where the government would find the money but he said it would not resort to unchecked printing of new rubles.

Primakov spoke as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation was due to arrive in Moscow to assess the way his government is dealing with Russia's crisis before releasing a delayed installment of a previously agreed loan package. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin, however, admitted Russia has done little to meet the IMF's conditions for releasing the installment. The IMF has warned against printing money, saying it could lead to high inflation.

Primakov also met today with President Boris Yeltsin at the Kremlin to brief him on the economic situation. Yeltsin has spent the last several days at country residencies recovering from what the Kremlin said was a bronchial infection. Yeltsin, under heavy pressure from his opponents to step down, reiterated that he does not intend to run in the next presidential election in the year 2000.