• ACI Russia

08/27/1998 11:11:51 FOCUS-Yeltsin stays at hunting lodge amid crisis

(Updates with telephone conversation with Chernomyrdin, Friday


By Adam Tanner

MOSCOW, Aug 27 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin stayed

away from his Kremlin office for a second day in a row on

Thursday in spite of Russia's financial crisis.

The Kremlin said he remained at his Rus hunting lodge about

100 km (60 miles) from Moscow.

"He is in the Rus residence today and he is preparing for

tomorrow's meetings with (Bulgarian President) Petar Stoyanov,"

press officer Lyudmila Krylova said.

Asked if Yeltsin needed an entire day to prepare for talks

with the Balkan leader, Krylova said: "He probably has some

other plans too."

Later the Kremlin said Chernomyrdin spoke to acting Prime

Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin by telephone.

The two men discussed the results of Chernomyrdin's talks

with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Michel

Camdessus, on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

Chernomyrdin flew to Ukraine unexpectedly on Wednesday

afternoon to talk to Camdessus. The IMF was the leading lender

in a $22.6 billion international loan package for Russia

approved last month.

Yeltsin also planned to meet Chernomyrdin at the Kremlin on

Friday, the press service said.

"It is possible that later today the president will come to

Gorky-9," she said, referring to a government residence in the

suburbs west of Moscow. "That's because it's closer to Moscow."

Yeltsin spent the day at Rus on Wednesday as the rouble fell

more than 40 percent against the German mark.

The Russian currency continued to slide on Thursday,

prompting the central bank to suspend trade and piling pressure

on the country's banking and financial sector.

Kremlin officials deny that health reasons have prompted

Yeltsin to stay away at such a vital time for Russia's economy.

The president, who ended five weeks of holiday on Monday, is

famous for dropping out of sight during crises.

His latest disappearance sparked rumours on U.S. financial

markets on Wednesday that Chernomyrdin, appointed acting prime

minister on Sunday after Yeltsin dismissed the old cabinet, was

planning to oust his boss.

Chernomyrdin spokesman Konstantin Voitsekhovich echoed

Kremlin denials of the rumours. "They defy logic," he said.

Russian newspapers stepped up criticism of the president on

Thursday, some saying he was unable to rule Russia any more.

"It's already clear to everyone that he is no longer in a

condition to rule the country," the leading business daily

Kommersant said.

"Yeltsin's role in resolving the financial crisis consists

and will consist only of putting his signature on needed decrees

at the right place."

Yeltsin plans to meet Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov on

Friday after talks with the Bulgarian leader.

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