Yeltsin says he's ready for work
Saturday 21 December 1996
"I feel the recovery period is over," Mr Yeltsin said in the broadcast, recorded at the country house where he has been convalescing since the bypass surgery in November.
"I am returning to the Kremlin on Monday. I will be there at 9 am. The doctors have done their job and now it is up to the President. The country needs an active and energetic president, especially now."
Michael De Bakey, the pioneering American heart surgeon who acted as a consultant during Mr Yeltsin's operation, has said he should be able to look forward to 10 more working years providing he takes a gentle pace initially.
The 65-year-old Kremlin leader, who wore a cardigan and lounged in an armchair for his television appearance, lacked spontaneity but spoke firmly as he answered the prepared questions of an official interviewer. What would be the first problems to which he would turn his attention ? "Pensions," said the President without hesitation. "Pensions and wages."
The delay in their payment to millions of Russians was "intolerable. It is completely unacceptable when the state cannot pay its people for the work they have done".
Tax-dodgers were largely to blame for the crisis, he said, adding that early next week he would look in on a meeting of a special new government commission set up in an attempt to raise revenue collection.
"We have a list of non-payers," said the President. "They should know that they will answer before the commission. I would like to remind directors of enterprises that if they can't pay, it means they can't cope. And if they can't cope, they should go. We will not tolerate a situation where honest people suffer." The Communists put up a strong challenge to Mr Yeltsin in presidential elections earlier this year, exploiting a groundswell of discontent among the poor who have yet to feel the benefits of market reform.
Mr Yeltsin said he would also be closely watching the peace process in Chechnya and concentrating on military reform. "We must decide what kind of army we need." Talk of cuts without proper clarification of how they would be carried out or what would become of demobilised officers was lowering morale in the forces.
Without naming names, the President said some government officials had been slacking in his absence but on the whole he was happy with the way the country had been run while he was ill. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin took over control of the nuclear button for the few hours of the operation and has been making many key decisions on behalf of Mr Yeltsin.
"This was a test of our constitution, of our maturity as a democracy," concluded the President. "Society has survived. We are on the right path."
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Isis 'throw man off a building for homosexual affair' and beat him to death when he survives
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...