President Mikhail Gorbachev has struck an economic accord with the 15 Soviet republics that could give him breathing space in his battle to prevent the country grinding to a chaotic halt.
The temporary agreement appeared to pave the way for the Soviet Finance Ministry to complete work on the 1991 budget. But it was unclear if it resolved crucial differences with the Russian Federation, the biggest republic."The results of our work show convincingly that we will be able to take control of the situation. . . . Some problems remain to be settled with the Russian Federation," Gorbachev told Soviet television and the official Tass news agency.
Russia, the heart and lungs of the economy, wants greater control over its resources and has threatened to torpedo the federal budget by withholding more than $200 billion in contributions.