• ACI Russia

08/19/1998 16:46:38 INTERVIEW-Gorbachev slams Yeltsin over devaluation

Обновлено: 21 авг. 2018 г.

By Timothy Heritage

MOSCOW, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail

Gorbachev urged Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Wednesday to

call early elections to restore confidence in the country's

leaders and help resolve a financial crisis.

He told Reuters in an interview that this week's de facto

devaluation of the rouble would deal a colossal blow to the

economy and major strikes were possible if Yeltsin did not call

presidential and parliamentary elections.

"The president must come up with an initiative to halt the

destruction of the economy, of this country. To do this, he must

call elections in the autumn or spring," Gorbachev said.

"If he did this now, it could be his last good deed for his

people. But it is hard to count on him doing this. I don't think

he realises what the situation is."

He said the government and Yeltsin had lost the confidence

of their people and the final straw had been the president

firmly ruling out a devaluation just three days before the

rouble was allowed to devalue.

"Didn't they know (there would be a devaluation)? If so,

everyone knew but them and they are just wasting their time and

should quit quickly," Gorhachev said. "How can you trust them?

How can you entrust the future of the state in them?"

The next presidential election is due in 2000 and the next

parliamentary poll is due at the end of 1999.

Gorbachev, 67, has little influence in Russia despite his

popularity abroad for his role in ending the Cold War. His

public feuding with Yeltsin goes back more than a decade.

But he has experience of some of the problems Yeltsin and

Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko now face.

It was Gorbachev who launched the "perestroika" reforms and

promised his people a turnaround in the economy, something which

never came during his rule.

Those dreams were in effect ended by an attempted coup which

was begun by hardliners on this day in August 1991 and which

Gorbachev said hit his reforms "just when the light had appeared

at the end of the tunnel".

Yeltsin's promises of relative prosperity have also proved a

distant dream for all but a few Russians.

Gorbachev said Monday's decision to allow the rouble to

fluctuate more than previously, effectively letting it devalue,

would affect ordinary people by making imports more expensive

and by reducing the real value of wages and savings.

"It has been done at the people's expense," he said at the

Gorbachev Foundation think-tank which he set up after he fell

from power and the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

"I think the most dangerous thing is the rise in prices. The

other thing, which is not being talked about, is that there is

no indexation of savings or wages."

Predicting the collapse of many banks, he said: "This is a

colossal blow."

He said protests, threatened by trade unions over the

government's failure to pay milions of workers for months, were

likely in the autumn if Yeltsin did not act now. Instead, he

said, Yeltsin remained on holiday outside Moscow.

"That is simply not serious," Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev, who suffered a crushing defeat in the 1996

election, said he did not plan to run for president again.


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