• ACI Russia

08/24/1998 13:58:41 Russia's Chernomyrdin vows to protect rouble

MOSCOW, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Acting Prime Minister Viktor

Chernomyrdin said on Monday the priority of Russia's new

government would be to protect the rouble and to save the

banking system.

"Our main task is to protect the rouble. We must have a

banking system...we must not lose it," he said in televised

remarks made to a session of Russia's acting cabinet.

Chernomyrdin added that some banks might be allowed to fail

as part of the drive to rescue the debt-laden financial system.

President Boris Yeltsin nominated Chernomyrdin as acting

prime minister on Sunday after dismissing the four-month old

government of Sergei Kiriyenko amid an acute economic crisis

that has led to an effective devaluation of the rouble and a

90-day moratorium on debt repayments.

Earlier on Monday Yeltsin appealed to parliament to swiftly

approve Chernomyrdin as prime minister. Chernomyrdin served as

prime minister for more than five years until his abrupt

dismissal by Yeltsin in March.

The rouble was fixed earlier on Monday at 7.1400 to the

dollar, down from Friday's rate of 7.0050. It had been 6.31

before Kiriyenko allowed the de facto devaluation on August 17.

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