Yeltsin Bolstered by IMF's Big Loan: West Seeks Stability before Elections
Sieff, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The International Monetary Fund gave a $10.2 billion boost to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's re-election battle yesterday, promising loans in that amount over the next three years.
Even so, the money is not likely to be enough to ease the grim hardship facing disillusioned Russian voters before Mr. Yeltsin has to face their judgment in June.
The loan approval was seen as a vote of confidence by the IMF that Russia will continue sweeping free-market reforms, even though Mr. Yeltsin dropped the most prominent reformers from his government in the wake of Communist and ultranationalist election victories in December.
"I think it does help Yeltsin" in his re-election battle, said Keith Bush of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
If the IMF had not approved the loan, Mr. Yeltsin would have been hammered by his critics for imposing painful financial constraints on the Russian people to win Western good will without getting anything in return, Mr. Bush said.
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus of France announced the loan approval in Moscow yesterday after meeting with Mr. Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.
"I am confident with this arrangement," he told reporters. "We are supporting an extremely solid strategy for the next three years for this country."
Russian officials had requested $12 billion. But Mr. Chernomyrdin and others appeared delighted with the deal they got.
In return for the loan, Russia has pledged to undertake IMF-sponsored measures to bring inflation down to 1 percent per month and budget deficits to 4 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 1996. …