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Russia: Chernomyrdin Submits Prospective Cabinet To Yeltsin

Moscow, 1 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has sent a list of prospective cabinet members to President Boris Yeltsin, Russian news agencies report. No names were given, but correspondents say the heads of defense, interior and foreign affairs are expected to keep their posts. Deputies of the State Duma are expected to meet Monday on whether to approve Chernomyrdin in the post of prime minister. Lawmakers rejected the candidate yesterday in a first round of voting.

The battle over Chernomyrdin's confirmation, meanwhile, continues to heat up. Yeltsin today said he'll "insist" deputies approve Chernomyrdin, dismissing speculation he may choose another candidate.

The leader of the Communist party in the Duma, Gennady Zyuganov, however, says his faction, which holds a majority of seats in the Duma, will not support Chernomyrdin. He says the decision is "firm."

Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton said today there are no painless solutions to Russia's crisis but that the country must continue the reform process.

Clinton, speaking at Moscow's Institute for Foreign Relations, also said that the U.S. economy is "fundamentally sound" after yesterday's market dive. He arrived earlier today in Moscow for a two-day summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Interfax quoted a Kremlin statement as saying Yeltsin told Clinton during their first round of talks that Russia would continue to build a market economy and a democratic society. But according to the Kremlin, Yeltsin also told Clinton that as the country struggles with its deepening crisis, tactical changes, including tighter state controls on the economy, may be needed.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was travelling with Clinton in Moscow, also said today that Moscow needs to firmly pursue fundamental economic changes to receive more financial assistance from the United States. Albright said nobody expects Western nations to keep throwing money into Russia if the Russians themselves are not willing to undertake reforms.

Also today Russian officials said trading in the ruble on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange will resume Thursday after a week-long break.

Interfax reports the exchange is awaiting Central Bank approval of a new method of calculating the main rate, the "fix," for the ruble against the dollar.

In a bid to stop the ruble's fall last week, the central bank halted foreign currency trading and began setting its own rates independent of the markets.

In related market news, major stock exchanges around the world plunged in the wake of yesterday's deep drop on Wall Street.

Shares traded in London, Frankfurt and Paris, Europe's three biggest exchanges, lost from two to three percent of their value as investors sold stocks to buy safe-haven government bonds. Yesterday in New York, the 30-company Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than six percent, its second worst one-day drop ever.

In Central Europe, financial markets were mixed in volatile trading. In Asia, Malaysian shares plunged 13 percent after the government announced it would halt free trading in the currency, the ringgit, to isolate the economy from volatile financial forces. Shares in Hong Kong dropped more than two percent. In Tokyo, where stocks have been battered for months, shares rose two percent.

Correspondents say investors are still unnerved by the prospect of a global stock market crash, sparked by Russia's economic problems and ongoing weakness in Asia and Latin America.