• ACI Russia

08/17/1998 16:36:18 Председатель Центробанка РФ находится под давлением

By Andrei Khalip MOSCOW, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Nearly four years after Sergei Dubinin was sacked as Russia's acting finance minister when the rouble crashed on the so-called "Black Tuesday", he is under threat again as pressure mounts on the rouble. Dubinin, 47, was the first victim of a reshuffle over the rouble's decline in October 1994 in which Soviet-era central bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko was also ousted. Sources close to the government and parliament said the Kremlin was after his head again on Monday after Russia raised the upper limit of the band in which the rouble is allowed to float -- a move which amounted to a de facto devaluation. "Dubinin was asked to file a resignation letter today. Apparently he refused," one source said. Another said the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, could call for Dubinin's sacking during an emergency crisis session on Friday. Dubinin did not comment on the reports. A monetarist reformer, he has remained true to this day to the anti-inflation policies he proclaimed as the bank's top priority when he took office. "You should expect no sensations (from my appointment). We should keep the anti-inflation policy going, which will allow us to bring interest rates down and attract investment," Dubinin said after his confirmation by the Duma in November 1995. Dubinin has avoided sensations when he could, sticking to the government's official monetary policy and to agreements with the International Monetary Fund to lower inflation. Before the recent turbulence on Russia's financial markets, his name was occasionally mentioned by Russian media as a potential prime minister. It was under Dubinin, a softspoken man with a distinctive long beard, that inflation was tamed. It was down at 4.2 percent year-on-year in July, compared to 161 percent in November 1995. Dubinin did not invent the rouble corridor limiting its movements, but he effectively kept the rouble within the corridor and it was under him that Russia chopped three zeroes off the rouble from January 1998. The refinancing rate, which stood at 170 percent when Dubinin took the office, sank udner him to 21 percent before the economic crisis in Asian and low world oil prices forced the bank to increase the rate. It hit 150 percent in June, but now stands at 60 percent. He took up the central bank post in difficult times after more than a year of uncertainty in which it had four bosses in litte more than a year. The Duma refused to accept tough monetarist Tatyana Paramonova as the central bank chief and temporary acting head Alexander Khandruyev spent less than two weeks at the helm. Dubinin graduated as an economist from Moscow State University. He worked as anadviser to Yeltsin's team before becoming a first deputy finance minister in 1993. Dubinin worked for the commercial Imperial Bank after he was sacked as acting finance minister. He then joined the board of monopolist gas producer Gazprom, the company once run by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. REUTERS ANK TJH

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