08/14/1998 23:18:47 Yeltsin puts brave face on rouble's troubles
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, Aug 15 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin has put a
brave face on the bruising suffered by Russia's share markets
and the rouble, saying the country has the resources it needs to
weather the crisis.
"There is a new wave of world financial crisis and we have
to brace ourselves again to be able to deal with this
situation," Yeltsin said. "We've calculated our reserves and are
ready to resist."
He said he saw no need to rush back to Moscow from his
vacation in lakeland Valdai. "That would signify that there was
turmoil," he told reporters.
U.S. president Bill Clinton, who spoke to Yeltsin by
telephone for 40 minutes on Friday, had a different opinion.
U.S. officials said Clinton urged Yeltsin to act quickly and
decisively to restore confidence in the Russian economy.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry's account implied that
Clinton and Yeltsin had not discussed the possibility of further
international aid to Russia, which only last month agreed a
$22.6 billion bail-out with international lenders.
McCurry said that the two talked about the rouble. He gave
Russian share prices meanwhile halted a week of near
free-fall, moving higher so sharply that trading had to be
But while stocks closed up nearly 14 percent, traders said
volume was too thin to signify an end to fears of financial
The rouble stood at between 6.37 and 6.70 per dollar, well
below the central bank's floor for the day of 6.31. Its fall
shows the market is betting on devaluation, in spite of adamant
denials from Yeltsin the central bank.
Some foreign exchange booths shut down in central Moscow,
blaming a lack of hard currency. Others would sell dollars only
at premium rates ranging up to eight roubles.
Some banks refused to allow depositors to withdraw dollars
from savings accounts -- a first sign of currency trouble for
But Yeltsin told reporters: "There will be no devaluation --
that's firm and definite."
Central bank spokeswoman Irina Yasina said central bank
chief Sergei Dubinin and Kremlin debt negotiator Anatoly Chubais
were returning from holiday this weekend but denied there was
any plan to devalue the rouble while markets were closed.
Yeltsin's Communist opponents said they were ready to agree
to a session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament,
where they are a dominant force. But they made clear they wanted
to take the cabinet to task rather than talk about rushing
government proposals onto the statute books.
Yeltsin signed an appeal to the Duma to break into its
Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko has been urging the Duma to
return next week to pass a dozen tax and other bills which
ministers say are a vital part of their crisis measures.
Kiriyenko said in Kazan that he was going to discuss a "wide
range of economic problems" with Yeltsin on Monday.
The Duma has yet to decide whether to convene the session,
which Kiriyenko believes could be held before the end of August.