Parliament speaker urges Yeltsin government to quit Economic reforms called 'anarchic'

January 14, 1992|By Francis X. Clines | Francis X. Clines,New York Times News Service

MOSCOW GNB — MOSCOW -- With the harsh fact of price rises sinking in across the nation, the speaker of the Russian parliament called yesterday for the resignation of the government of President Boris N. Yeltsin for having enacted "uncontrolled, anarchic" economic reforms.

The call by the speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, was rejected quickly by a spokesman for the Russian government, who also denied that Mr. Yeltsin might resign his second job as prime minister in reaction to the growing political unrest over price rises.

Mr. Khasbulatov is a popular politician who has made it clear lately that he is breaking away from his ties to Mr. Yeltsin.

The Interfax news agency had reported that Mr. Yeltsin was preparing to step back from the prime minister's role and offer it to various prominent Russian politicians so that he could focus his attention on the republic's role in the shaky new Commonwealth of Independent States.

That report, along with the speaker's call for a new government, reflected a growing sense of unease over the first steps of a free-market plan introduced Jan. 2 by the Yeltsin government.

Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, the nation's economic chief, said the Yeltsin government, far from resigning, was proceeding with its plan and had expected "natural criticism by the legislature of the executive power forced to take unpopular measures in a very difficult situation."

Protests are growing slowly across Russia in the form of demonstrations and limited strike actions as the public faces prices that consumer statisticians predict will at least double in the first weeks of the plan.

In some areas, such as Vladimir, officials facing consumer protests are raising government price subsidies, a socialist step that the reforms were intended to end.

In Ulyanovsk, an eightfold rise in fuel prices sparked protests, according to the Tass news agency. In Kirov, as in other cities, local officials are hurriedly opening soup kitchens, the agency reported.

Food prices rose 182 percent last month and are expected to double this month, according to the St. Petersburg Center for Consumer Market Research, which estimates that a city family will need 1,200 to 1,600 rubles a month for food, about three times the average wage.

Mr. Khasbulatov, fresh from a trip to the Russian provinces, wasted little time in calling for the resignation of Mr. Yeltsin's Cabinet, a group built around Mr. Gaidar and other free-market enthusiasts intent on replacing economic communism, repairing the ruble and gaining Russia a place in global markets.

Eleven days after the initial price changes, Moscow consumers seem stunned by the results as they suffer the same shortages as before, but with prices rising rapidly.

A featured report on the national television news last night simply allowed shoppers to complain. Some of them said that even with salaries of 800 or 1,300 rubles a month -- substantial under communism -- they don't have enough now.

In urging a new government, Mr. Khasbulatov said the initial economic reforms have proved "completely unwise and far from realistic."

The reforms have resulted not in true liberalization but in "uncontrolled, anarchic, non-regulated price increases," he said.

The government is "practically incapable," Mr. Khasbulatov said at a meeting of visiting Italian politicians.

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