On Wednesday, Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev urged Prime Minister Primakov to set up a commission to look into why the government and the Central Bank decided to devalue the ruble and freeze domestic debt payments last August 17. Stroev said the Federation Council should urge the Prosecutor General’s Office to start criminal proceedings against those responsible for the financial crisis. “Legal action must be initiated against those who stirred up all the mess and who took incorrect and secret decisions which brought Russia to its knees,” Stroev said. At the time the August 17 decisions were made, Sergei Kirienko was prime minister and Sergei Dubinin was head of the Central Bank (Russian agencies, October 14).
On Tuesday, Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov said that investigators from his office and the Audit Chamber, an independent government watchdog agency set up by the parliament, had evidence that some Central Bank officials had violated the law on August 17. He said investigators were looking into the freezing of GKOs (Russia’s moribund short-term T-bills), and activities involving interbank credits, ruble emission and the Central Bank’s internal expenses to see if officials had abused their positions. Skuratov stressed that criminal proceedings would be initiated only for willful misuse of office, not for incompetence. The investigation is expected to conclude next month (Russian agencies, October 13).
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