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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vouching for Russia

What's made of paper, "quite charming", has a riverfront view of Moscow and will be in the hands of every willing Russian citizen by Dec. 31?

The future of Russia and its transformation to a market economy, according to Anatoly Chubais, deputy prime minister and head of the State Privatization Committee.

Later this year, the Russian government will issue privatization vouchers to all citizens. Carrying a 25 to 50 ruble price tag, the printed vouchers are the focal point of the government's plan for large-scale privatization.

"The use of vouchers will not start in two or three days", Chubais said at a press conference Thursday. "The technical side has been completed. There is a model but we need the legal basis through presidential decree".

While their actual value will not be announced before the model is submitted to the Supreme Soviet after its summer break, fears of forgeries and illegal sales have already surfaced. Chubais, acknowledging these concerns, said such sales could also be beneficial if sold to the right buyers.

"This is what we've been dreaming about, and we are working on this question", he said, detailing that some companies have actually drawn up lists detailing whose vouchers they will buy.

"It's better that they buy vouchers than have an old man or woman come

to Moscow to sell theirs. Anyone should be able to sell theirs at the market price".

Workers can use their vouchers to buy shares in their own or other enterprises at favorable rates, although there will be restrictions in some industries such as defense, transportation and energy.

Chubais also said, however, that he hoped foreign capital would play a major role in Russian privatization, despite the recent fall of the ruble which creates bargains for foreign investors". We will use the same standards for both domestic and foreign investors", he said, adding that the weak ruble would "create attractive conditions for foreign investment. It is precisely this that interests us".

The Russian government's plan of widespread privatization will be supported by a consortium of Western companies and institutions, including the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,

and six private companies.

As part of its complete privatization plans, officials from the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, also detailed their plans for continued small-scale privatization auctions throughout Russia.

Russia held its first auction as part of its small-scale privatization program in Nizhny Novgorod last spring under guidance from the corporation, with plans for a similar auction in Volgograd later this year.

Corporation officials also announced the publication of the first official manual on privatization in Russia. The 450-page, three volume set

was written by the corporation under the auspices of the State Property Commission, with funding from the U. S. government.

The manuals are now being distributed to all state privatization committees as well as to districts, cities and officials who seek to start a program similar to that underway in Nizhny Novgorod.