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Russia's reshuffle raises hope, anxiety in Europe
August 24, 1998
Web posted at: 1:40 p.m. EDT (1740 GMT)
(CNN) -- European leaders, some worried that Russia's sick economy might infect
their own countries, were hopeful Monday that President Boris Yeltsin's Cabinet
reshuffle could overcome Russia's faltering financial state.
Yeltsin appealed to Russians for support after firing Prime Minister Sergei
Kiriyenko and summoning back former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin. A Kremlin
official said economic reforms, closely monitored by Western creditors, would stay
on course but predicted "serious changes" in their implementation.
Yeltsin threw out Kiriyenko's four-month-old government Sunday and asked
parliament Monday to confirm Chernomyrdin as prime minister in a bid to restore
stability to financial
The decision after months of economic turmoil and a plunge in the ruble's value
came nonetheless as a surprise to European leaders, many of whom have been
pressing Russia for stringent economic
Yeltsin names Chernomyrdin his possible successor in the 2000 elections
Monday in Moscow
Here's a sampling of reaction:
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and several of his Cabinet ministers expressed confidence
that Chernomyrdin could elicit the support to carry out economic reforms, which
German officials said was pivotal in winning back the confidence of international
A government spokesman quoted Kohl as saying he
valued Chernomyrdin as someone the Germany government "knows well and respects."
Economics Minister Gunter Rexrodt said that despite
Russia's heavy debt to German banks, "the political and economic turbulence in
Russia does not endanger the German economy."
President Leonid Kuchma said it was "impossible not to be worried" by the
developments in Russia where a "strong and stable government" was needed.
Russia's slide into financial chaos has left millions of workers without
wages for months
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek welcomed Chernomyrdin's reappointment, but his finance
minister, Leszek Balcerowicz, said Poland should prepare for spillover from the
Russian economic crisis.
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine urged the West to keep cool and continue
supporting Yeltsin. "Over the medium- and long-term, (Russia) is on a path
towards construction and reconstruction and deserves our continued confidence," he
said. He criticized
over-reaction to political events, "the way stock markets do, based on rumors."
President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Chernomyrdin's return to power signaled that
at least the situation in Russia "will not be worse." It had been a mistake to
sack the premier in the first place, Nazarbayev said.
"Everything that happens in Moscow has a big impact on the Hungarian economy,"
said Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a visit to Poland. "But the news (of the
reshuffle) is so recent that it is difficult to reach any conclusions."
Reporter Matthew Chance and Reuters contributed to this report.