Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 173

More than a month after the present financial crisis erupted on August 17, the Russian government remains incomplete and without an economic policy. President Boris Yeltsin met with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday to try to fill the remaining cabinet vacancies, which include the posts of minister of finance (presently held by Mikhail Zadornov), minister of economics (Yakov Urinson), and head of the State Tax Service (Boris Fedorov). Yesterday the government moved further to the left with the announcement that Gennady Kulik, a Soviet-era agriculture minister, is to be deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture. Kulik is a member of the Agrarian Party, which opposes private ownership of agricultural land, and which is closely allied with the Communist Party (Russian agencies, Reuters, September 21).

First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov said yesterday that a program of emergency measures will be adopted by the end of the week. At the same time Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin assured journalists that the cabinet will meet on Wednesday at the latest to finalize details for redeeming treasury bills, regulating the foreign-exchange market and supporting the ruble. In the meantime, Shokhin declared, “neither the government nor the Central Bank should make decisions on… printing money without consulting one another.” Confidence in the currency was shaken as a Central Bank official revealed that nearly a million new rubles have been printed in the past few days. Trading was suspended on the Moscow stock exchange yesterday when the ruble fell from 14.6 rubles to the US dollar to 16.4. Shokhin later said during a television interview both that the government will prioritize the payment of overdue wages and pensions and that a timetable for payments should be ready to be announced on Thursday (ORT, September 21).