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08/26/1998 16:17:20 IMF's Camdessus meets Russian, Ukrainian leaders

(Adds details)

WASHINGTON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The International Monetary

Fund's managing director held surprise talks on Wednesday with

Russian and Ukrainian leaders on the financial crisis gripping

Russia and fallout across the region.

An IMF spokesman in Washington said the fund's managing

director, Michel Camdessus, was meeting with Russia's acting

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Ukrainian President

Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, against the

backdrop of the deepening crisis and plummeting currencies.

"The purpose of Camdessus's visit is to discuss recent

developments in Russia and their impact on the region,

especially Ukraine," the IMF spokesman said.

Last month Russia clinched a $22.6 billion rescue package

with the IMF and other international lenders aimed at dragging

Russia out of deep economic crisis. But conditions have

deteriorated dramatically since that agreement was reached.

Russia stunned financial markets around the world a week

ago by effectively devaluing the rouble and declaring a 90-day

moratorium on repayment of some foreign credits.

Then Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Sunday fired the

entire government of Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who had

failed to stem a worsening financial crisis.

Yeltsin named as acting prime minister Chernomyrdin, whom

he had fired in March in a quest for a premier who could inject

new life into economic reforms.

But Chernomyrdin has been struggling to form a new cabinet,

and German Finance Minister Theo Waigel said it was not

possible for the IMF, the Group of Seven industrialized nations

or the European Union to fix Russia's problems.

Russia's rouble plunged more than 40 percent against the

German mark on Wednesday and the central bank declared it could

no longer afford to intervene to support the currency.

Ukraine, which is seeking a $2.2 billion loan from the IMF,

has also been hit hard by the crisis.

Citing the knock-on effect of the crisis in neighboring

Russia, the IMF said on Tuesday it was reassessing economic

conditions in Ukraine.

Once this reassessment is completed, the IMF was expected

to consider Ukraine's loan, which would support a program of

tough economic reforms and help the former Soviet republic

weather the financial crises gripping Russia and Asia.

Ukraine's hryvnia has taken a battering in the wake of

neighboring Russia's rouble devaluation. What happens in Moscow

is critical for Kiev because Russia accounts for about 40

percent of Ukraine's foreign trade.

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