Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Soviet, Russian Leaders Renew Plans for Union Gorbachev and Yeltsin Press Views of Future

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Soviet, Russian Leaders Renew Plans for Union Gorbachev and Yeltsin Press Views of Future

Article excerpt

BORIS YELTSIN and Mikhail Gorbachev were on the road last week, each seeking what the other has. Russian President Yeltsin was in Germany for three days looking for international acceptance. At the same time Mr. Gorbachev traveled to the Siberian city of Irkutsk and the Central Asian republic of Kirghizia in a bid for popular support for his vision of continued union.

"We are determined to occupy a worthy place among democracies which rightfully belongs to Russia," Mr. Yeltsin told an audience of German industrialists.

"Nothing but a union state can take us from this marsh and restore order within the whole of the economic space," Gorbachev told the daily Rabochaya Tribuna. "If there is no union state, I shall not take part in the discussion."

The Soviet leader sounded this theme in factory speeches and on the streets, where he met with what the official Tass agency called "a good deal of bitter words" from residents standing in long lines before stores with empty shelves.

Such sentiments are hardly new, but it is a long time since the much maligned Soviet leader heard them first-hand.

Gorbachev has increased his tempo in recent weeks in beating the drum for union.

He is pushing hard for the former Soviet republics to sign a treaty forming a Union of Sovereign States to replace the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Last week he spent two and half hours trying to convince republican leaders of this, a task he will resume today when they meet again in Moscow.

At the same time, Gorbachev argues that political union and economic reform are inseparable. Without a united state "in the international arena ... it will be impossible to implement reforms," he said in the interview published on Nov. 22.

His chief economist, Grigory Yavlinsky, has drafted a package of eight agreements designed to implement the treaty to form an economic community that was signed in October. These agreements cover foreign debt, taxes, budget, social security, prices, and inter-republican agreements to deliver food and other goods.

The experts have done their work, Mr. Yavlinsky told journalists, now it is time for the politicians to act. A joint communique signed by eight republics with the Group of Seven leading industrial nations gave the unionists a significant boost from the West.

The G-7 offered limited deferral of payments on the Soviet Union's medium- and long-term debt, as well as some short-term credits to meet immediate needs.

But they demanded in turn the republican acceptance of collective responsibility for repayment through the existing central Vneshekonombank and implementation of economic policies under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund.

Those policies include reducing the huge budget deficit, curbing growth of the money supply, liberalizing prices and foreign exchange, and maintaining "free inter-republican trade."

"We're not trying to recreate the center," United States Undersecretary of the Treasury David Mulford insisted after the talks. "We've tried to help all the relevant parties set up a system to solve their problems. …

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