Stepashin vows clean-up

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RUSSIA'S ACTING Prime Minister, Sergei Stepashin, promised yesterday to fight corruption, which he said was the country's public enemy number one.

Mr Stepashin, who faces a confirmation hearing in the Duma (lower house of parliament) tomorrow, told the Federation Council (upper chamber) his experience as Interior Minister had shown him how "clean-up actions" could tackle corruption. "My work in the law enforcement powers shows we have what it takes to solve these problems," he said.

Mr Stepashin said order was needed to raise tax revenues and create a business environment worth investing in.

"We must step up our fight against crime in Russian business affairs, both in the state and private sectors. The biggest brake on our development is theft," he said.

Mr Stepashin follows a long line of government chiefs who have promised to fight crime and corruption. His predecessors have had little success.

But, as former head of the federal security service, Mr Stepashin knows the problem. He said tax revenues in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia rose nearly nine-fold after police ran a clean-up drive against organised crime. (Reuters)