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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U. S. Politicians Anticipate Referendum

American lawmakers on a fact-finding mission in Russia said that President Bill Clinton's much trumpeted $1. 6-billion aid package to this country will face its first in a series of hurdles at the end of this month.


"We are concerned about April 25", said House Minority Leader, Robert Michel. "There is a lot of apprehension around that date".


Michel was referring to the country's upcoming referendum in which Russians will decide whether to cast a vote of confidence in President Boris Yeltsin and his approach to reform or to opt for a slower pace endorsed by Yeltsin's hardline opponents.


The Republican congressman from Illinoi said that the aid package won't "hit the Congressional floor" before the referendum's outcome is known, and hinted that the package could be recast if Russia's president does not emerge victorious.


Michel is one of 14 American lawmakers on a week-long, fact-finding mission in Kiev, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg. They are here trying to gage the country's reform process.


Robert Livington, a staunch conservative Republican lawmaker from California, stood Thursday inside the Russian Commodities and Raw Material Exchange where scores of brokers were buying and selling privatization vouchers and said he was encouraged with what he saw.


"If Yeltsin does not win, we will just have to take one day at a time", Livington said.


The lawmakers conceded that last year's proposed aid package was riddled with flaws and that measures must be taken to ensure that assistance actually winds up here and in the right hands. and Clinton must still propose his aid plan to Congress, which in turn has to hammer it out among themselves. Lawmakers speculated that the quickest Russia could expect to see the funds is in four months.


Even if the delegation, led by Michel and House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, sways U. S. opinion in favor of funds for Russia, one lawmaker said there is no absolute guarantee over how the aid is manifested.


"You can never be absolutely sure that money won't be wasted", said Livington, who added he favors investment and technical assistance over direct monies. "It is always a problem".