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  • ACI Russia

08/26/1998 11:00:43 FOCUS-Russia cenbank rapped by PM, securities head

(recasts, adds Vasilyev comments)

MOSCOW, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank came under

fierce attack on Wednesday from senior officials including

acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin over its handling of

monetary policy.

The chairman of the Federal Securities Commission, Dmitry

Vasilyev, said the public prosecutor should be asked to probe

the bank's actions, which he branded a complete failure.

"Financial and economic policy is a question to which I am

giving my attention minute-by-minute," Itar-Tass news agency

quoted Chernomyrdin as saying.

"I declare that I am extremely dissatisfied with the work of

the central bank over the last two days."

Trading was suspended on the Moscow Interbank Currency

Exchange (MICEX) soon after it started on Wednesday because of a

five-percent drop in the rouble from Tuesday's fix against the

dollar.

On Tuesday the rouble lost 10 percent of its value against

the U.S. currency in the biggest one-day fall for four years.

The rouble slid 69 percent against the German mark in thin

trade on Wednesday, fixing at 7.6000 per mark on MICEX versus

4.4995 on Tuesday.

Chernomyrdin, appointed by President Boris Yeltsin last

Sunday after the sacking of Sergei Kiriyenko's four-month old

cabinet, was expected to meet central bank governor Sergei

Dubinin later on Wednesday.

"I will talk seriously with Sergei Dubinin about the

inaction of the main financial institution in the serious

economic situation," Tass quoted Chernomyrdin as saying.

The new premier described the currency slide as political

rather than economic.

Vasilyev also lashed out at the Central Bank.

"Serious mistakes were allowed by the leadership at the

highest levels including over the past two years -- the actions

of the central bank and its leadership," he told a news

conference.

"The huge amount of resources from non-residents was misused

instead of boosting hard currency reserves and this in the final

analysis led to the rouble's devaluation.

"The central bank has failed in its basic task -- defence of

the rouble," he added.

"In my view, maybe everything that has happened here could

be the subject of a special inquiry including the public

prosecutor."

Tass quoted Chernomyrdin as saying he would on Wednesday

take "important decisions" on financing in the budget sphere. He

was quoted as saying the decisions would touch on teachers,

people in the military, doctors and other categories of workers

paid from the budget.

Under Russia's constitution, Dubinin cannot be removed by

presidential decree as only parliament has the power to sack

him. He has been head of the central bank since October 1995.

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