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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U. S. Boosts Aid to Russia at Summit For Yeltsin, Search for Votes Opens

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- President Boris Yeltsin stopped off in Siberia to campaign for his April 25 referendum Monday on his way home from the U. S. -Russian summit where he pocketed $1. 6 billion in aid pledges.


Yeltsin said at the end of his summit meeting with U. S. President Bill Clinton Sunday in Vancouver that the U. S. aid, which is a down payment on a much larger international package still to come, would fast improve people's lives, and he assured his fellow Russians that he did not sell out the country in exchange.


"Cooperation is not concession-making, but a vital necessity", Yeltsin declared.


An hour after embracing Clinton in a farewell bear hug at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Center, Yeltsin flew home via Siberia.


Monday, in Bratsk, the site of one of the world's largest dams, he urged citizens to vote for his reforms. "Go out and vote 'ye's to all four questions" on the referendum ballot, he said, according to Itar-Tass.


The need to shore up the beleaguered reformer's chances against his largely conservative opponents in the April 25 balloting lent a sense of urgency to the Clinton administration's aid effort and the two-day Vancouver summit itself.


"We are investing today not only in the future of Russia but in the future of America as well", Clinton said at the joint press conference that ended the summit Sunday.


"Mr. President", he went on, "our nation will not stand on the sidelines when it comes to democracy and Russia. We know where we stand. We actively support reform and reformers and you in Russia".


Clinton, 46, who appeared to develop genuine fondness and respect for the 62-year-old Russian leader during the summit, declared that Yeltsin's "enduring virtue" is that he trusts the Russian people.


Yeltsin, in turn, declared that he was "fully satisfied" with the results, spirit and atmosphere of the summit. He also praised "the very special relationships developing between ourselves and Mr. Bill Clinton".


Explaining the novelty of his administration's approach to supporting Russia, Clinton said that three-quarters of the money now being allotted would bypass the Moscow governmental bureaucracy and go directly to Russians committed to free enterprise or truly in need.


Despite such stirring rhetoric, it was obvious that the U. S. money alone could do very little to kick-start Russia's stalled bid to construct a free-market society in a country where the economy shrank last year by no less than one-fifth.


Russia's ambassador to Washington, Vladimir Lukin, sarcastically dismissed the new U. S. program. He noted that it includes $6 million to finance a pilot project for building 450 houses for former Soviet Army officers and retraining them for civilian life.


"Four hundred and fifty houses! " Lukin deadpanned in an interview. "That's a whole village! "


Clinton said the United States is prodding other members of the Group of Seven major industrial democracies to shoulder a much bigger burden in aiding Russia and that additional aid measures should be announced at a G-7 meeting April 14-15 in Tokyo.


The U. S. aid package includes:


o New grain sales amounting to $700 million


o Credits for trade and investment, $230 million.


o Humanitarian food and medical assistance of $194 million.


o Dismantling of nuclear weapons and facilities, including submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, plus nuclear warhead storage facilities, $215 million.


o Private sector support through the Russian-American Enterprise


Fund of $50 million; there would be privatization support of $95 million and $4 million from the Eurasia Foundation.


o Energy and environment assistance; this would encompass support for projects to enhance energy production efficiency and reduce pollution of pipeline systems, $38 million. Although influential Westerners have said it is dangerous for the United States and its allies to stake so much on Yeltsin, the Russian leader said there was no one else at the moment able to lead Russia down the dangerous path of change.


"Today, I say, there is no alternative to Yeltsin", the Russian leader said matter-of-factly. "Perhaps there will be one tomorrow, but certainly not today".


-- (Los Angeles Times, Reuters)