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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Central Bank Gets Acting Director

xPresident Boris Yeltsin appointed a new acting head of the Central Bank on Tuesday, but this move toward restoring government stability was undercut by reports that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had submitted his resignation.


Yeltsin appointed Tatyana Paramonova as acting chairwoman of the Central Bank. In doing so, he snubbed the State Duma, which still has not determined what action to take over Yeltsin's dismissal of the former bank chief, Viktor Gerashchenko.


A report by Ekho Moskvy radio said the prime minister, who has unexpectedly extended his vacation in Sochi on the Black Sea, also resigned Tuesday, due to ill health.


Chernomyrdin, in a phone conversation with U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said reports of his resignation were "rubbish," Washington officials told Reuters. The prime minister's spokesman, Valentin Sergeyev, also denied the report.


A spokesman for the president said he could "neither confirm nor deny these reports at this stage," according to The Associated Press.


The appointment of Paramonova appeared to show Yeltsin in a confident mood, as he also resubmitted his candidate for the post of public prosecutor, Alexei Ilyushenko, for the approval of parliament, despite the fact that he has already once been rejected.


Paramonova, 44, becomes the most senior woman official in Russia. She had been one of six deputies to Gerashchenko.


Paramonova may be the first woman in Soviet or Russian history ever to occupy a top financial post. In Soviet times, women in the government were relegated to "soft" jobs in ministries responsible for culture and social programs.


The only woman minister in the Yeltsin era was Labor and Social Protection Minister Ella Pamfilova, who resigned earlier this year claiming she had no influence on the government's social policy.


News of the appointment came as a surprise to three reformist factions in the Duma, which met Tuesday for the first time since last year's elections to discuss a common strategy for next week's vote of confidence in the government.


They were also planning to agree on a candidate to propose as Central Bank chief. But the faction leaders, from Russia's Choice, December 12 Union and Yabloko, were overtaken by the appointment of Paramonova. Two of the faction leaders, Yegor Gaidar and Boris Fyodorov, had been rumored as possible candidates to replace Gerashchenko.


"While we were talking about putting forward a candidate, a new Central bank chairperson was appointed," Grigory Yavlinsky, Yabloko faction head, said sarcastically. "Gaidar tells me he has not been consulted and I can see it in Fyodorov's face that he has not been consulted, either."


Neither Gaidar nor Fyodorov commented on Paramonova's appointment.


"It's another apparat appointment," a testy, red-faced Yavlinsky fumed after the meeting.


Last week, Yeltsin signed a decree dismissing Gerashchenko as Central Bank chief, although the Russian constitution says the country's top banker can only be appointed or dismissed by the Duma. The legislature's budget committee recommended Monday that a vote should be held to approve or turn down Gerashchenko's resignation.


Yeltsin, however, apparently acted on the basis that his decree was the final word on the dismissal. Combined with other recent moves -- the firing of Acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin and his behavior on recent foreign trips -- Yeltsin's actions over Gerashchenko spurred some erstwhile supporters to speak out against him.


"I get the impression that the president sees nothing and hears nothing," said Irina Khakamada, who co-heads the December 12 Union with Fyodorov. "There is a wall in front of him and what he is told does not depend on us."


Yavlinsky told the meeting, "We no longer support Yeltsin's policy.


"A regime under which the constitution is violated, the judicial system is not working and a parliament is forced to keep moving from building to building like a bunch of bums is not a democratic regime."


Yavlinsky's faction is the most vocal among reformist groups in criticizing Yeltsin for authoritarianism. But even members of the pro-Yeltsin Russia's Choice warned Tuesday that they would be forced into opposition to the president if he refused to appoint more reformers to the government.