Yeltsin hoping money will help his campaign Gift from U.S. is necessity, he says

April 05, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Embattled Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin declared victory at the U.S.-Russian summit yesterday, pocketing $1.6 billion in aid pledges that he said will fast improve people's lives and assuring Russians that he did not sell out the country in exchange.

"Cooperation is not concession-making, but a vital necessity," Mr. Yeltsin declared.

An hour after grappling with President Clinton in a farewell bear-hug at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Center, Mr. Yeltsin was airborne, flying back home in his Ilyushin jet for what his entourage said will be a rally in the Siberian wilds.

That meeting today at Bratsk, site of one of the world's largest dams, was to mark the start in earnest of Mr. Yeltsin's nationwide campaign for a show of voter confidence in a referendum now less than three weeks away.

The need to shore up the beleaguered 62-year-old reformer's chances against communists and reactionaries in the April 25 balloting lent a sense of urgency to the Clinton administration's aid effort and the two-day Vancouver summit itself.

"What is important is for Russian people, for ordinary Russians, including my wife, for instance, and daughter and others, to see that we are not alone in this world," Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev said in a television appearance here yesterday morning.

Mr. Clinton, explaining the novelty of his administration's approach to supporting Russia, said three-quarters of the money now being allotted would bypass the Moscow governmental bureaucracy and go directly to Russians committed to free enterprise or truly in need.

"Let's say we're going to spend 300 billion rubles on health in Russia -- that will reach every single Russian; 100 million rubles on medicine -- that will reach every Russian," Mr. Yeltsin chimed in at a joint news conference.

"New technologies will generate new consumer goods for each and every Russian. Everything is people-oriented. This is Bill Clinton's policy, it is Yeltsin's policy," he said.

Despite such stirring rhetoric, it was obvious that the U.S. money alone could do very little to kick-start Russia's stalled bid to construct a free-market society in a country where the economy shrank last year by no less than one-fifth.

Mr. Clinton said that the United States is prodding other members of the Group of Seven major industrial democracies to shoulder a much bigger burden in aiding Russia and that additional aid measures should be announced at the G-7 finance ministers' meeting April 14-15 in Tokyo.

Mr. Yeltsin, under withering fire from Parliament Chairman Ruslan I. Khasbulatov and other Russian conservatives for allegedly being a Western stooge, said he made no concessions to get the U.S. money and had permitted no "linkage" of the aid to Russian policies.

He was especially careful to avoid implying that the assistance could be construed as a way for him to buy victory this month in the referendum.

"In regard to the referendum, that's our internal domestic issue," Mr. Yeltsin said. "It is up to us to persuade the citizens of the Russian Federation that if they do not vote in favor of confidence on the 25th of April, they will be dealing a major blow not only to Russia, but also to the United States of America, to the other countries of the world."

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