08/29/1998 22:18:09 Yeltsin, Russia PM, Duma to negotiate new strategy
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Russian politicians are to have
more talks on the country's deep political and economic crisis
on Sunday, hoping to finalise a new political strategy which
would remove some of President Boris Yeltsin's sweeping powers.
Officials of the acting government, parliament and
presidential aides will meet for negotiations in which the
Communist-led Duma lower house expects to win more influence,
including the right to control top cabinet nominations.
Acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, struggling to
head off economic collapse, on Saturday moved to calm mounting
Western fears about the fate of market reforms, saying Russia
would not return to the state controls of its Soviet past.
His pledge followed a tough warning from the International
Monetary Fund and the United States that the West would not come
to Russia's rescue if it reversed its six-year drive to a more
open, market-based economy.
"We are already part of the world economy and there will be
no return to the past," Chernomyrdin said in televised remarks.
In recent days the rouble has lost more than 40 percent of
its value and anxious Russians, fearing a meltdown of the whole
banking system, have besieged banks to withdraw life savings.
On Friday Chernomyrdin formed a group of senior reformers
headed by acting Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov, setting
them the task of preparing urgent anti-crisis measures.
In another possible sign of Chernomyrdin's determination to
stick to the reform path, news agencies and newspapers in
Argentina reported that he had asked the man who drove
four-digit inflation from the Latin American country to advise
News agency DyN and newspapers said Chernomyrdin had invited
Domingo Cavallo, a Harvard-trained economist and Argentina's
economy minister in the early 1990s, to advise the new cabinet.
Russian officials were not immediately available to confirm
Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin's chief of staff Valentin Yumashev
spent four hours in the parliament building on Saturday night
negotiating with parliamentary deputies on a draft of a
compromise strategy worked out with the Communist- dominated
The talks produced no immediate results after four hours of
bargaining and were put off until 0630 GMT on Sunday.
Chernomyrdin and the Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov said
they were generally happy with the pace of negotiations but did
not say if they would personally attend the new round of talks.
Interfax news agency said the draft, approved by experts
from both sides, provided for redrawing the constitution to hand
some of Yeltsin's sweeping powers to parliament.
It would give the Duma more control over the government but
also approve the nomination of Chernomyrdin as prime minister
and his deputies and some key ministers.
Interfax also quoted sources as saying Yeltsin, who said on
Friday he would not resign until his term ends in 2000, had
rejected a parliamentary offer to introduce a law to give him
legal protection from prosecution and a generous pension on
Yeltsin was spending the weekend at a rural retreat
preparing for his September 1-3 summit in Moscow with U.S.
President Bill Clinton.
Clinton and other Western leaders have offered Russia moral
support during its present difficulties but they insist Moscow
must continue tough market reforms as a condition for continued
On Saturday German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Yeltsin's closest
Western ally, was quoted as saying Russia's crisis could pose
enormous problems in international financial relations.
The Kremlin said Yeltsin would meet Chernomyrdin on Monday.
The same day or possibly on Tuesday the Duma is scheduled to
consider Chernomyrdin's nomination as prime minister.
On Saturday acting Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko
met the local World Bank representative, Michael Carter, to
discuss Russia's continued cooperation with global lenders.
"The speedy resolution of our political problems and the
outlining of clear goals for the country's economic development
are among the basic requirements for financial support from
international financial organisations," Interfax news agency
quoted Khristenko as saying after his talks.
On Saturday Chernomyrdin said he had no plans to end the
internal convertibility of the rouble but would take measures to
prevent the flight of capital out of the country and protect
people's savings and that the central bank was working on this.
He said he would not shut currency exchange outlets because
this would spark the creation of a black market that would evade
the tax authorities. A de facto black market reminiscent of the
Soviet era has begun mushrooming on Russian streets in the
absence of an official dollar-rouble exchange rate.