Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yeltsin Floats Plan to Increase Power, Jump-Start Reforms He Also Says Russia Will Form Own Army If Ukraine Proceeds with Military Plans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yeltsin Floats Plan to Increase Power, Jump-Start Reforms He Also Says Russia Will Form Own Army If Ukraine Proceeds with Military Plans

Article excerpt

RUSSIAN President Boris Yeltsin, putting his power and prestige on the line, said yesterday he wanted to take charge of the government and introduce wide-ranging radical reforms, including the lifting of price controls.

Speaking at the opening of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, the republic's lawmaking body, Mr. Yeltsin defended the freeing of prices, saying all talk about introducing a market economy in the republic would be "empty chatter" unless such a measure was taken.

"It is time to act decisively, harshly, without hesitation," Yeltsin said in a determined tone. "We won't be able to carry out reforms painlessly. The first step will be the most difficult."

Since the decisive defeat of hard-liners during the failed August coup, the reformist forces headed by Yeltsin have accomplished little in transforming the country into a democratic, market-based state. The Russian government, beset by political infighting, has proved ineffective at coping with the rapid economic decline of the nation. As a result, public opinion has been turning against the Russian president.

Yeltsin is seeking to jolt the deadlocked government into action by taking over the reins himself. Yeltsin offered to become prime minister in addition to his post as president, but stressed the changes would be made on a one-year basis only. Russia has been without a prime minister since Ivan Silayev left the post to head the Inter-republican Economic Committee several weeks ago.

"The congress should give the president the right to change, either on his own or with the subsequent endorsement by the Supreme Soviet {parliament}, the existing structures of top executive bodies and decide problems linked with their composition," said Yeltsin.

During his speech, Yeltsin said 55 percent of families were living below the poverty line. He added that in order to stabilize the Russian economy, strict measures would be taken to control the money supply and the government budget deficit. …

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