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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Economic Slide Will Continue, Panel Says

As they prepare to hammer out Russia's economic reform program for 1993, government leaders warned this weekend that they cannot completely curb the country's rapid economic decline, and that their chances of doing so are threatened by continued quarrels with parliament.

In the first of several planned roundtables between government and parliamentary leaders. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that his government was scrambling to stop the economy's downward spiral, but that halting inflation, which hit 2, 600 percent in 1992, and stopping a drop in production, which fell 20 percent last year, were at present "impossible", according to Itar-Tass.

The government is due to discuss a draft version of its economic reform program for 1993 on Thursday. It calls for a return to the tight economic policies of early last year, with controlled industrial credits, a switch to investment credits for enterprises, and phased reductions of subsidies.

Chernomyrdin's remarks Friday were in keeping with recent promises to make curbing inflation a top priority. Although he promised increased government aid to debt-ridden state enterprises when he took office in December, he has since refashioned his policies, now falling more in line with the shock-therapy reform program the government has pursued for over a year.

Now, Chernomyrdin has supported curtailing subsidies to such enterprises, which may force some to go bankrupt when a new bankruptcy law takes effect on March 1.

Chernomyrdin was joined at the roundtable by Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov and other economists, parliamentary faction leaders and government officials.

Opening the discussion, Khasbulatov called for "consensus and democracy" in resolving the economic crisis. But the very same day, the mercurial speaker, who is known for his bitter verbal attacks on President Boris Yeltsin and his government, told a visiting delegation that the president had "failed to cope with his duties" and should not be allowed to run the government.

"We have pinned too many hopes on the president and government told Prime Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, according to Interfax. "It is clear now that the only stabilizing force is parliament".

Yeltsin and Khasbulatov are at odds over the terms of a referendum scheduled for April 11. Agreed upon in a compromise between the president and parliament in December, the nationwide vote is to set the principles of a new constitution and decide the division of powers between the government and legislature.

First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, who will present the draft reform program, told journalists Friday that with a power struggle between the reform government and conservative parliament still unresolved, "solving the country's crisis is not possible without a referendum, which should be held as soon as possible".

Shumeiko, who was named last week to head a government commission to organize and carry out the referendum, denounced the legislature as a Communist Party organization with Khasbulatov as "its own general secretary", and accused it of sabotaging reforms.