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No recovery until Yeltsin gone-Yavlinsky
Interview By Adam Tanner

- Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the pro-reform opposition party Yabloko, said on Sunday Russia's economy would not substantially improve until President Boris Yeltsin left office. 

"Things will be better only when there will be a new president,'' Yavlinsky, a candidate for president in the next elections, told Reuters in an interview. 

Yeltsin has vowed to serve out his term until the elections in 2000 despite calls for his resignation. A poll of 1,500 Russians reported on NTV television on Sunday said 66 percent favoured his immediate resignation. 

Yavlinsky, 46, leads the fourth-largest faction in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, which will vote on Monday on whether to confirm acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in his post. 

Long a critic of Yeltsin and his government, Yavlinsky said his party would again reject Chernomyrdin, but said it was unclear how other parties would vote. 

``In Russia only an idiot would make predictions,'' he said. ``I've been in politics for 10 years, which is the entire time that politics have existed in Russia. It's exactly because I've been in politics for 10 years that I can say my partners' positions change very often.'' 

The Duma rejected Chernomyrdin overwhelmingly during its first vote last week. It can reject him up to three times before the constitution requires a dissolution of the legislature. 

On Monday morning Yavlinsky and other parliamentary leaders will meet Yeltsin for last-minute discussions before the vote. 

``As a rule, it's quite rare that he says something sensible,'' Yavlinsky said of Yeltsin. ``Nothing is clear, and considering the partners I have it's not clear what to expect from them -- from Yeltsin, from the Communists.'' 

Economically depressed Russia suffered a further blow three weeks ago when the government devalued the rouble, leading to a sharp rise in prices. 

Some experts have warned of civil unrest, but the streets remain calm. 

``I'm worried that things could really worsen, but I don't think it would lead to a disaster,'' Yavlinsky told Reuters. 

``The main problem in Russia is that there is no civil society, there are no stable parties, there's no continuity, there's no heritage, there's no traditions,'' Yavlinsky said. 

``The world must understand that Russia must create a civil society from the grassroots....Otherwise we'll have a Babel.'' 

Asked about the likely course of the rouble, which has fallen from six to the dollar to 17 in recent weeks, Yavlinsky said: ``For now it will continue to get worse, because there is no production, there are no exports.'' 

One of the authors of a 500-day plan to boost the Soviet economy under President Mikhail Gorbachev, Yavlinsky said he had stayed up all night on Saturday to prepare a new programme. 

``I am writing a programme of immediate and medium-term measures,'' he said. ``We will publish it mid week.'' 

Gorbachev rejected the original 500-day plan and it was not clear whether Yavlinsky would win support for his latest ideas. 

In an opinion poll in the latest weekly Obshchaya Gazeta, 16 percent of 936 polled Muscovites said Yavlinsky would be the best candidate for prime minister. Only six percent in the poll mentioned Chernomyrdin as the best man for the job. 


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