- 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
"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
On Monday morning Yavlinsky and other parliamentary leaders
will meet Yeltsin for last-minute discussions before the
``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
``I'm worried that things could really worsen, but I
don't think it would lead to a disaster,'' Yavlinsky told
``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
``The world must understand that Russia must create a
civil society from the grassroots....Otherwise we'll have
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
``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
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