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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Casts Blame In Black Tuesday Fall

President Boris Yeltsin criticized government officials at a Security Council meeting Wednesday for "incompetent decisions" which led to the collapse of the ruble last month, and ordered the government to keep a closer eye on the market.


His remarks followed completion of a Security Council investigation into "Black Tuesday," when the ruble lost nearly 30 percent of its value in one day. The report names officials found responsible, but it does not support earlier conspiracy theories for the crash.


In the aftermath of Black Tuesday, the State Duma came close to voting no-confidence in the government and asked for changes in the government and for Yeltsin to cut his staff.


Later on Wednesday, Yeltsin discussed further possible changes in the government with State Duma chairman Ivan Rybkin, who, according to Itar-Tass, again stressed the need to bring fresh blood into the cabinet.


On Tuesday, Yeltsin issued an order that his staff be cut by one-third, apparently responding to complaints, from supporters and opponents alike, of a stifling Kremlin bureaucracy they said was isolating the president from society.


Nobel prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn also referred to the dominance of bureaucrats in his speech to the Duma last week, saying Russia's political system was "not a democracy but an oligarchy of a very limited circle of people."


Yeltsin's chief spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, confirmed Wednesday that the order existed, but he would not comment on how many of the roughly 1,000-strong staff would be made redundant.


The two cabinet appointments Yeltsin has made so far seemed to aim at pleasing all factions in parliament before what promises to be a tumultuous debate on the 1995 budget.


The new agriculture minister, Alexander Nazarchuk, one of the leaders of the conservative Agrarian Party faction, said Tuesday he would not endorse the budget because it reduced government spending on agriculture.


But the new press minister, Sergei Gryzunov, a liberal who once served as Russian Information Agency's correspondent in Yugoslavia, seemed destined for popularity with reformers after Itar-Tass quoted him Wednesday as saying he would be tough on the nationalist, anti-Yeltsin press.


Though Yeltsin is not legally obliged to consult legislators on ministerial appointments, he has asked all the Duma factions to present lists of candidates for the vacant posts of finance minister and economics minister.


Rybkin had said Tuesday that the factions' proposals would be discussed during his meeting with Yeltsin on Wednesday. After the meeting Rybkin said a cabinet reshuffle would take one or two weeks, but gave no further details, Interfax reported.


The Yeltsin-led Security Council on Wednesday lashed out squarely at the government for October's currency crisis.


"It became possible, above all, because of a lack of coordination in the actions of federal executive bodies, the untimely, sometimes incompetent decisions of a number of officials who could have prevented the crisis," the presidential press service said in a statement after the council's meeting.


Izvestia reported in its Thursday edition, which came out Wednesday evening, that the Security Council named specific officials who were to blame for the crash. The newspaper quoted Vladimir Shumeiko, speaker of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper chamber, as saying that the officials would soon be fired. But he named no names.


The statement also said Yeltsin ordered the government to "take quick, specific measures to regulate the ruble rate and exchange operations" and strengthen control of the financial markets.


After the Security Council meeting, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met with the heads of Russia's biggest private commercial banks to discuss future measures to stabilize the currency, Reuters reported. No details were available of steps under discussion.