Yeltsin Rolls The Dice

Even by Russian standards, the sense of foreboding is extreme. In apartment parking lots, retirees living on $5 a month pick through garbage bins for scraps of food. Fear of crime has increased so much in Moscow and St. Petersburg that sales of a Russian version of Mace, the anti-assailant aerosol, are booming. When the value of the ruble fell 50% on Dec. 3, Muscovites thronged exchange windows and hustled black marketeers in a mad scramble for dollars, increasingly the currency of choice. The next day, Soviet financial officials announced they were suspending principal payments on their foreign debt.

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