Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 192

Michel Camdessus, director of the International Monetary Fund, told the newspaper “Kommersant daily” that Russia has a good chance to receive aid if its government has “a clear program.” Camdessus said that to receive further IMF funds, the Russian government must take the steps it promised to take last summer, when it signed an agreement for a multibillion dollar bailout package. These included measures to balance the budget and increase tax receipts. Camdessus said the Russian government’s “anticrisis” program does not, as yet, exist.

The IMF director also said that accusations made by the Audit Chamber–an independent Russian government watch-dog agency–that the US$4.8 billion in IMF funds released to Russia last summer had been misused, were unsubstantiated. Camdessus said the IMF gave the money to Russia’s Central Bank for the purpose of supporting the ruble exchange rate and that “we were, on a daily basis, up on all of the Central Bank’s interventions in the currency market” (Kommersant daily, October 17). On August 17, several weeks after Russia received the IMF installment, the government devalued the ruble.

Meanwhile, Sergei Kirienko, who was prime minister both when Russia signed the IMF agreement and when the ruble was devalued, gave a long interview to “Kommersant daily,” in which he said the IMF had backed his government’s decision to devalue the ruble and freeze the Russian treasury-bill market. “On the day after August 17, we received a guarantee from the IMF that in spite of the toughness of the decisions taken, these measures, evidently, were necessary, and thus they don’t nullify the possibility of receiving a second tranche.” The IMF has withheld its second installment, also worth more than US$4 billion. Kirienko also said that President Boris Yeltsin himself had rejected a government proposal to allow the ruble to float freely against the dollar, insisting instead on a widening of the ruble-dollar “corridor” (Kommersant daily, October 17).