Yeltsin Looks for Revenue

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MOSCOW: Just a day after rumors of his death sent financial markets plunging, Russian President Boris Yeltsin released a statement designed to show the nation he is running the show. Thursday, the feisty leader accused large companies of contributing to Russia's looming debt crisis by dodging their taxes. On Friday, he intends to broadcast the second of his radio talks, explaining what measures the government will take to up its income. Yeltsin is reacting to unprecedented shortfalls which have pushed the Finance Ministry to cut expenditures and borrow more money just to keep the government functioning. Tax evasion is rife in Russia, where the Tax Inspectorate agency is both inefficient and unable to cope with the demands placed on it by the developing market economy. But the reluctance of Russian business to pay its taxes has led to a severe funding crunch for the federal budget. Millions of workers, teachers and physicians have not been paid in months. Government concerns from nuclear submarine bases to schools and hospitals have not received enough money from the budget to cover basic needs. But the greatest problem with the tax shortfall is that the country's soldiers, once part of one of the most powerful armies in the world, have been reduced to a poorly paid, ill-equipped unit. -->