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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Social Problems Priority: Premier

PARIS -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin pledged in an interview published Tuesday to focus on social problems in the run-up to presidential elections in June, but without busting the budget.

Chernomyrdin told the French daily Le Monde that a fall in living standards was inevitable in the wrenching shift to a market economy.

"Our priorities are social. It's of course linked to the election campaign, but the social problems are fundamental," the prime minister said of his government's aims in the interview in Moscow. "But I must say that everything will be done within the 1996 budget. We will not depart from it."

Chernomyrdin said extra cash would come from a rise in budget receipts and foreign credits from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"I don't favor these loans, it's not a panacea. The main source of our revenues will be the improvement of production, and thus the ability of businesses to pay," he said.