08/23/1998 11:37:38 Yeltsin returning to work facing calls to resign
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin
returns to his Kremlin desk on Monday after more than a month on
holiday to face a deepening economic crisis that has prompted
opponents to demand his resignation.
He will meet his prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, on Monday
to discuss the outlook, Interfax news agency said on Sunday.
"The situation is heated beyond the limit and it depends
only on actions by Boris Yeltsin," the influential Kommersant
Daily newspaper said in its Saturday edition.
While Yeltsin has been away, Russia's stock market has sunk
and treasury bill yields -- the return investors demand for
lending money to the government -- have soared.
The managing body of the State Duma or lower house of
parliament will meet on Monday to consider a Communist-proposed
motion of no confidence in Kiriyenko's government.
It will also decide the agenda of the chamber's
extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, when deputies are to debate
the government's recent steps to combat the crisis and consider
some long-proposed austerity bills.
Russia is also due to unveil a debt restructuring plan on
Monday, converting an estimated $40 billion worth of short-term
debt into longer-term paper. Despite official denials, foreign
investors fear the plan will favour Russians at their expense.
At an extraordinary meeting on Friday, the Duma lashed out
at the government, which last Monday announced a de facto
devaluation of the rouble and what many analysts said amounted
to a debt default in a bid to shore up the financial system.
The Communists, the strongest party in the Duma, insist that
a coalition cabinet of "national trust" should be set up.
The chamber also approved a resolution recommending that
Yeltsin resign voluntarily. Opponents now say renewal and change
can be achieved only if Yeltsin steps aside.
A Duma commission reviewing charges against Yeltsin under a
Communist-proposed impeachment bid will also meet on Monday. It
is all but impossible to impeach the president under Russia's
constitution, approved under Yeltsin's rule.
But Yegor Stroyev, speaker of the upper house of parliament,
threw his weight behind Yeltsin and Kiriyenko on Saturday,
dismissing calls for them to resign.
"We've had enough state coups," he said. "We must learn to
reach constructive agreements."
The Federation Council, as the upper house is known, holds
its own special session on the crisis on Friday. It is made up
of regional leaders and so gives Russia's 89 regions a chance to
express their views.
Russian newspapers on Saturday said that trust in Yeltsin
was at a low ebb after months of crisis.
"Today the president's political weight has just about
reached a minimum and the reserves of trust in him among his
opponents have practically run out," Kommersant said, adding
that the leftist opposition might try to take the power.
"Will we wake up in the same country on Monday? The
president must give an answer," it said.
Foreign leaders are worried that the financial problems
could spark concerted labour or social unrest in Russia and that
the crisis could have a knock-on effect on other countries'
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl discussed the situation with
Yeltsin by telephone on Saturday and French President Jacques
Chirac had a telephone conversation with him on Thursday.
The European Union urged Russia on Saturday to stick to its
policy of economic reform and implement fully a package of
measures agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which
threw Russia a multi-billion-dollar lifeline last month.
Apart from dealing with domestic problems this week, Yeltsin
will hold talks with Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong on
Tuesday, and with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on Friday.
Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton are to meet for a
summit on September 1 and 2.
Yeltsin began his holiday in the northern Karelia region on
July 18, but then moved to the Valday lakeland in the Novgorod
region on August 4. He also spent several days in his two
residences outside Moscow.