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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Vows Market Reforms Despite Duma's Opposition

President Boris Yeltsin said Friday he would ignore opposition in parliament to his market reforms and press ahead with them regardless.


"Regretfully, the deputies have not supported the decision that is needed and have been afraid to shoulder responsibility for these painful but vitally important measures," Yeltsin said in a radio address. "We will do all that is necessary with regard to this decision."


The opposition-dominated State Duma, the parliament's lower house, went on summer holiday earlier this week after rejecting most of the government-proposed draft laws aimed at boosting market reforms and putting state finances in order.


Yeltsin, whose address focused on the elderly, said the bills were intended to secure enough money in the budget to prevent a recurrence of months-long arrears in pension payments.


His remarks suggested he was ready to use his vast constitutional powers to push through at least some of the changes by decree. Yeltsin could issue decrees on specific reform packages, but not on the entire budget.


First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said Thursday the government had fulfilled Yeltsin's demand to pay off arrears on old-age pensions by July 1.


Ministers have blamed poor tax collection for the pension and wage arrears that have helped fuel social discontent across the vast Russian Federation.


Yeltsin, who last week dedicated his radio address to the problems of the young, said Russia needs youthful and energetic people, but it should not overlook the needs of the elderly in the rush toward a market economy.


"Reforms have been most painful for people of the older generation," Yeltsin said. "I have to accept some of the blame for this."


Yeltsin said it was clear the government was not able to pay adequate pensions in the long term and reform would be needed. "But there will not be any sudden changes," he said.