Moscow, 7 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, today rejected for the second time the nomination of Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister. The Duma is expected to vote one more time on President Boris Yeltsin's nomination. If it rejects him again, Yeltsin will be obliged to call early parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the ruble dropped to 30 to the U.S. dollar. It was six to the dollar last month.
Today's 273 to 138 vote against Chernomyrdin came after Yeltsin met with
parliamentary leaders and urged his confirmation. Yeltsin also proposed a review
of Chernomyrdin's performance after a six-to-eight-month trial and signed a
political-power sharing agreement that would have ceded some of his vast powers
to the prime minister.
Speaking to Duma deputies before today's vote, Chernomyrdin said the main aim of the government should now be to strengthen the collapsing ruble and make it convertible. But the Duma's Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, told reporters that Chernomyrdin doesn't understand the program he has proposed.
The ruble exchange rate, set at about 17 per dollar on Friday by the Central Bank, was being quoted today on the electronic system of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange at close to 30 rubles per dollar for tomorrow's settlements.
One dollar had cost about 6 rubles last month. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin tendered his resignation earlier today amid severe criticism about the Bank's handling of the crisis.