• ACI Russia

08/24/1998 16:25:37 World takes shock Russian government sacking calmly

BONN, Aug 24 (Reuters) - World leaders reacted calmly on

Monday to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's surprise sacking of

his government, welcoming his decision to reappoint Viktor

Chernomyrdin as prime minister five months after firing him.

The United States and other top industrialised countries

stressed the need for continued reforms to overcome an acute

economic crisis, but most appeared to view the 60-year-old

Chernomyrdin as a stabilising factor amid the political turmoil.

Focusing on Russia's economic woes, a White House spokesman

said: "It's most important for acting Prime Minister

Chernomyrdin to take effective steps to deal with the economic

issues confronting the Russian government."

But in a sign of "business-as-usual", the spokesman added

that a planned summit in Moscow was still on between U.S.

President Bill Clinton and Yeltsin on September 1-2. The summit

has been expected to focus primarily on economic issues.

Both Germany and France welcomed the announcement of

Chernomyrdin's return to his old job to replace the 36-year-old

Sergei Kiriyenko, whose government Yeltsin dismissed on Sunday

following economic crises and a collapse in the value of the


French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine urged the West to

keep cool about Russia's future, declaring: "Over the medium-

and long-term, this country is on a path towards construction

and reconstruction and deserves our continued confidence.

"We must not analyse the situation in Russia in darkly

pessimistic terms as if we had lost all historic perspective."

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl expressed confidence that

Chernomyrdin could rally support to carry out economic reforms,

which German officials said was pivotal in winning back the

trust of international investors.

In a statement, government spokesman Otto Hauser quoted Kohl

as saying he valued Chernomyrdin as someone "the government

knows well and respects. He trusts that Chernomyrdin can, in the

face of the drama and seriousness of the situation in Russia,

push through the necessary decisions."

Germany is concerned about the economic fallout from the

Russian crisis should Moscow default on foreign loans and

uncertainties if the crisis leads to political instability.

Finance Minister Theo Waigel sounded a note of caution,

saying he was concerned about the Russian crisis.

"Rouble exchange rates can only be stabilised again if

Russia succeeds in winning back confidence," Waigel said.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was sanguine

about the latest upheaval in Russian politics.

"I hope things will proceed as scheduled and think there

will be no change," he said, adding: "There is nothing we can do

but wait and see."

European Union Commission President Jacques Santer said

there was no alternative solution to Russia's deep-seated

problems than a reform package agreed in July with the

International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition for $11.2

billion in aid.

"Of course we are concerned about the evolution in Russia...

I think that it is very important that all governments, whoever

is a member of that government, implement the economic and

financial reforms," Santer told Reuters at the annual European

Forum in Austria, the current EU president.

Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, mindful of the influence

of Russia's economy on East European markets, reacted with

cautious optimism.

"I understand the decision mainly aims to stabilise the

economy as Prime Minister Chernomyrdin's name carries

international weight and he has always been regarded as an

advocate of reforms," Buzek said.

Turkey welcomed Yeltsin's move.

"We hope these measures will secure stability as soon as

possible. An unstable Russia is not a desirable thing for the

region," Anatolian news agency quoted a foreign ministry

spokesman as saying.

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