The release of the anticrisis plan yesterday coincided with the expiration of the ninety-day moratorium on payments to foreign creditors announced last August by then Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, at the same time his government devalued the ruble. Russian agencies reported that Russia’s commercial banks would not be able to pay back more than US$2 billion of the US$6 billion they owed on forward contracts made with Western banks (Russian agencies, November 15). Profil this week gives much higher figures for what is owed on forward contracts: Inkombank alone, which was recently declared bankrupt, owed 122 billion rubles as of September 1 (US$13 billion according to the September 1 exchange rate); National Reserve Bank, 92 billion rubles (US$6.6 billion); Uneximbank, 33 billion rubles (US$3.5 billion); Bank Menatep, 17 billion (US$1.8 billion) (Profil, November 16). Observers predict both that there may be a rash of lawsuits and that Western creditors may seek the arrest of property which the debtors hold abroad. According to the Russian government/Central Bank document, the Central Bank will give “stabilization credits” only to those banks which produce plausible plans to pay of their debts. On November 14, however, Central Bank Director Viktor Gerashchenko told Russian Public Television (ORT) that MOST-Bank, Bank Menatep and SBS-Agro have been deemed vital commercial institutions and will receive Central Bank assistance (Russian agencies, November 14). Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik said last week the government will take a controlling interest in SBS-Agro by year’s end.
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT’S REPRESENTATIVE IN CHECHNYA FINALLY FREED.