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Russia: Yeltsin Denies Plans To Resign

Moscow, 28 August 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin denied rumors that he would soon resign during an appearance Friday night on state-run RTR television. "I'm not going anywhere. I am not going to resign," he said. He said he plans to serve out his term in office until new elections in 2000. Russia's deep financial crisis has fed intense speculation that Yeltsin's resignation was imminent.

Meanwhile, Russia's Acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin today urged all political forces to close ranks in face of the country's ongoing financial crisis. Chernomyrdin made the appeal after meeting with President Yelstin's, Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroyev and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

Chernomyrdin is considering proposals to reintroduce elements of state control over the economy. The proposals are included in a draft plan drawn up by representatives of the acting government and parliament. The State Duma lower house of parliament has linked Chernomyrdin's confirmation to his acceptance of the plan, as well as of a power sharing agreement with the Kremlin. The Duma agreed to convene on Monday to act on Chernomyrdin's confirmation.

Western leaders have made clear that Russia can expect no support if it veers away from market reforms.

Yeltsin, following his return to the Kremlin today from a rural residence, sacked Anatoly Chubais, his special envoy to international financial institutions, and also scrapped the special post. Yeltsin also relieved another reformer, Boris Nemtsov, of his duties as deputy prime minister. Nemtsov had earlier requested his dismissal.

Russia's Central Bank has suspended hard currency trading following the steep decline of the ruble and Russians are besieging banks to withdraw their savings. Acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin said today he had ordered police to monitor the activities of banks and currency exchange dealers to prevent capital flight.

Yeltsin earlier met with visiting Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov but did not mention the economic crisis. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Yeltsin called for the resuscitation of Russian-Bulgarian relations to their past levels. He said there was room for far greater cooperation in many sectors, and announced the creation of a joint working group to develop a specific program to achieve this aim within the next month.

Yeltsin later met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who is in Moscow to set the agenda for next week's scheduled Russian-American presidential summit.

Meanwhile, stock markets around the world continued to react to the financial turmoil in Russia. Sessions were characterized by highly volatile trading. Major European stock markets initially plunged at the start of trading, but later regained some of those losses by mid-day. Frankfurt's DAX index fell by five percent but recovered to a loss of just 1.4 percent by early afternoon.

The situation was similar in Paris, where the CAC-40 stock index plunged by four percent then recovered to post a gain of just under one percent by lunch time. London's Financial Times index also initially plunged by more than four percent, later climbing back up to a loss of just two percent.

In Asia, however, heavy losses were registered across the region. Traders there said they are concerned that economic problems in Russia could aggravate troubles in Asia and South America and precipate a global recession. Tokyo's Nikkei index fell to a 12-year low as stocks dropped 3.5 percent, mirroring drops in Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong.