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Yeltsin vows to pay overdue wages

Addressing the nation for the first time since returning to the Kremlin on Monday after his recovery from heart surgery, President Boris Yeltsin yesterday pledged to pay back-wages and to "awaken" sluggish bureaucrats who have failed to collect the necessary tax revenues.

Mr Yeltsin said in a radio address that it was essential that the government start paying state workers and retirees who have gone for months without cheques. "I know how hard life is for Russian families," he said.

The broadcast came as the President's predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, described Mr Yeltsin's ascent to power a "triumph of boorishness", and his administration as "dangerous people", in an interview published yesterday in the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta. AP - Moscow