Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Tells West Not to Invest In Yeltsin

Leading a wave of criticism Tuesday in the aftermath of the ruble devaluation, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov warned Western businessmen against investing in a country with a "debauched" man at its helm and called for the resignation of the Russian president.

Zyuganov implied that when the State Duma meets Friday in the first of three extraordinary sessions, President Boris Yeltsin is in for a vehement dressing down. The Russian government pushed for the sessions in a bid to persuade deputies to pass the rest of its legislation aimed at stabilizing the country's ailing economy.

But Zyuganov, who leads the largest faction in parliament's lower house, said Yeltsin lost his credibility by allowing the ruble fall.

"Our president has been completely devalued," he said. "The situation continues to deteriorate [because] the government is not united and it does not have a realistic program."

The Communists and their allies in the opposition will demand that Yeltsin step down, "and a government reporting to the Duma and the Federation Council [Russia's upper house of parliament] be formed instead," Zyuganov said. He also threatened mass protests across the country in October.

Were the Communists to come to power, they would honor Russia's debts, both internal and international, Zyuganov said.

"I want to warn all investors, including Western ones: If you continue to give money to save a debauched, rotten, immoral person who is incapable even of guiding himself, then you must share the responsibility for the marasmus that now exists in this country," he said.

Zyuganov did not say whether the opposition would insist on dismissing the government, led by Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, saying only that deputies are "unlikely to demand his head" on Friday.

In an ominous remark, Zyuganov compared Kiriyenko to Alexander Kerensky, leader of the Provisional Government, which lasted less than six months before it fell to the Bolsheviks in 1917.

Russian newspapers, too, slammed the government in their reaction to the economic crisis. The centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta led with mug shots of Kiriyenko, Central Bank head Sergei Dubinin, government envoy to international financial institutions Anatoly Chubais, and former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, who pushed through many of the early economic reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The headline above them read: "Real Culprits of Financial Crisis Shirk Responsibility Once Again."

Liberal Noviye Izvestia led with "The only thing higher than the authorities' cynicism is their incompetence," harking back to a similar crisis at the beginning of the '90s, when millions of Russians stood helpless as their life savings turned into worthless bits of paper.

But pro-market reform Russky Telegraf trumped every one of its peers with the simple headline "Game Over: Bankers Forget to Press Save" beneath Karl Bryullov's oil painting of "The Last Day of Pompeii."

Despite the increasing turmoil in the capital Tuesday, Yeltsin continued his vacation at his Rus residence outside Moscow, where he will remain until the end of the week, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said.

However, the president receives regular reports on the state of the market, and keeps in touch with his prime minister by telephone, Yastrzhembsky said.

Earlier in the day, Yeltsin accepted the resignation of Alexander Livshits, deputy head of presidential administration and former finance minister, who had tendered his resignation Monday.

"I did everything I could for Russia," Interfax quoted Livshits as saying Monday. "I probably share responsibility for what has been happening on financial markets. I could not protect the president and so I am stepping down."

But the government refused to comment on reports in the Russian media that both the prime minister and the Central Bank head had also offered to resign. Russky Telegraf announced Dubinin's days were numbered even before the devaluation occurred.

"Most likely Dubinin will be replaced by Viktor Gerashenko [former head of both Gosbank, the Soviet Union's state bank, and the Central Bank]," the article said, claiming that Gerashenko has already held meetings with the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev called for a meeting of Yeltsin, Kiriyenko and the chairmen of both houses of parliament to discuss the financial and economic situation in the country, Interfax reported.

"No conclusions can be made before a discussion of what really happened to the country's credit and financial system," Interfax quoted Stroyev as saying.

He added that it would be wrong to fire government ministers at this stage. "Reshuffles and any abrupt changes will not do the economy any good," he said, according to Interfax.