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Yeltsin Signs 1999 Budget

February 22, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ President Boris Yeltsin today signed into law Russia’s austere 1999 budget, a document designed to help the country out of its worst economic crisis since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

The budget was approved by both houses of parliament earlier this month with minimal opposition. Reflecting Russia’s economic plight, the budget authorizes government spending of just $25 billion and revenues of only $21 billion _ tiny sums given Russia’s huge size.

The government hopes the tight budget will keep inflation under control and will also persuade the International Monetary Fund and other foreign lenders to resume assistance that was halted after the economic crisis hit in August.

However, the IMF has expressed doubts about the government’s forecasts. The government expects inflation of only 30 percent this year, but overall inflation is already more than 10 percent since the beginning of the year.

Yeltsin, who has been sidelined by several illnesses recently, was at work in the Kremlin today. The president has said almost nothing about the country’s economic problems, and has left most day-to-day government affairs to Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

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