08/26/1998 11:37:13 Top Russian economist raps govt handling of crisis
MOSCOW, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A top Russian economist blasted
the government on Wednesday for "irresponsible actions" which he
said had led the country to the brink of economic meltdown.
Andrei Illarionov of the Institute for Economic Analysis
told a news conference that Russia's latest financial woes had
been brought on by the government's refusal to acknowledge the
severity of the problems facing it.
"I want to underline again that (the crisis) happened not
because the market functioned in this way or in that. It was
organized by the state authorities," he said.
Illarionov added that while the current problems were not
totally avoidable, their effect had been magnified by the
government's own actions such as spending billions of dollars in
hopeless attempts to stave off rouble devaluation.
He also accused leaders of spreading "open lies" about the
health of the economy in the days leading up to the start of the
rouble's freefall on August 17.
Illarionov, a respected advocate of market reforms and
long-standing critic of successive Russian governments, said a
rouble exchange rate of 12-15 to the dollar was "almost
unavoidable" and that the battered Russian currency was likely
to fall even further.
For months Illarionov was locked in a feud with the Central
Bank, arguing that rouble devaluation would prevent an
Indonesian-style crisis by bringing rouble liabilities and hard
currency reserves into equilibrium.
"Anyone who has ever opened an economics textbook knows that
this is still the only solution," he said.
"But under the current government and current policies I
don't see any light in any of this."