Russia: Is There A Solution?

By abandoning reform, Chernomyrdin is inviting hyperinflation, capital flight, and food shortages

It is a bitter August for Boris N. Yeltsin. Nearly seven years to the day after he defeated a coup plotted by hard-liners and helped bring down the Soviet empire, the Russian President experienced his own embarrassing defeat. The triumph of his presidency--a stable ruble--collapsed on Aug. 17 as his government defaulted on $40 billion in short-term debts and devalued the currency. Six days later, Yeltsin humbled himself by reappointing Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, the stodgy bureaucrat he had fired only five months earlier, as his Prime Minister. It was, opined Izvestia, "like swapping parachutes in free fall."

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