News round-up

10 - 17 March 1997

Yeltsin returns to public view

Russian President Boris Yeltsin returned to public view on 6 February after several months of near seclusion, making a stinging attack on NATO expansion plans, and outlining a package of economic reforms. Looking vigorous and alert, Mr Yeltsin rebutted lingering concerns over his ill health, reading a 25-minute State of the Nation address to members of both houses of Parliament in clear and authoratitive tones.

Chernomyrdin signs debt agreement

Russian companies with large state debts will have to transfer controlling stakes in trust to the state, or face bankruptcy under an order by Victor Chernomrydin, the Prime Minister. Indebted enterprises would transfer 50 per cent plus one share of their paper equity to the Federal Property Fund. In return, they would be given five years in which to pay off their principal debt, and ten years to pay off any fines. If a company failed to make two consecutive payments, or stopped paying current taxes during the restructuring period, the state could sell its shares.

Receiver in at Gdansk Shipyard

The last 3,800 workers at the Gdansk shipyard, where Lech Walesa founded the solidarity movement in 1980, were laid off by the receiver yesterday, as Banks refused further credit.

Dutch support Czech EU entry

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, in a visit to Prague on 6 February with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus, affirmed his support for Czech entry to the European Union (EU).

GM aims for Ukraine

David Herman, Chairman of General Motors Opel Brand, said in Geneva on 6 February that the company plans a partnership with Avtozaz, Ukraine's biggest car company. The group already have an investment in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Avtozaz, which has 12,000 employees, is keen to find a foreign partner as it lacks the resources to develop new models.

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