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How Yeltsin reacted to the 1998 default: The president made a shocking call

Date: May 29, 2024 Time: 21:47:24

Gennady Zyuganov

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

… – Gennady Andreevich, exactly 25 years ago there was a breach in Russia. The ruble depreciated, the Russian people broke into shops and currency exchange offices. Remember?

– I remember it all very well. It was a financial and economic tragedy. A terrible collapse that could end in the destruction of the country.

The fact that it smacked of non-compliance became clear to me in the spring of 1998. Our headquarters worked, there were major financiers, former USSR ministers, leaders. They sat down, looked and said: the ruble will inevitably collapse, it seems, in September. In May, speaking at a meeting of the State Duma, I said about the financial pyramid built that it would inevitably collapse in the fall. The fire started in early August.

President Yeltsin these days was resting in Shuiskaya Chupa – it was a government dacha of his in Karelia, he played tennis. The leaders of the Central Bank were also outside, there was practically no one in Moscow, except for the prime minister, who could make a responsible decision and give an official speech. At night the Gaidars, Chubais and others like them got together, there was an IMF representative, and they made an unprecedented decision: not to pay their own or others. And at night, the information went online. In the morning, everyone ran in fright, some to the shops, others to the exchange offices.

– And what were you doing at that time, where were you?

– I was in Snegiri (Snegiri is a rest house of the President’s Administration), I wake up in the morning, not a single car in the parking lot. They all ran to save what had survived. Everyone ran to the banks to withdraw money. And the banks do not pay their own or others. And as a result, one Sberbank survived, which paid a billion. And everything else got stuck. He had an acquaintance, he created a private factory, worked competently, kept money in three banks and believed that he would save himself anyway. And it turned out that he was wrong. He said: “I didn’t have a penny ‘under my pillow’, I have to pay my workers a salary, buy components the day after tomorrow and I am completely bankrupt.”

I arrived in Moscow, the bell rings – Yeltsin. And without greeting, he asks: “What are we going to do?”

– The president of the country to you, the leader of the opposition party, with such a question?

– Okay, yes. I say: in Moscow at night there will be 400 thousand unemployed, mostly young people who have gone bankrupt, everyone has lost their money, all their enterprises have collapsed, and we have dangled our legs in the abyss. They will last a day, two at the most, and then each one will begin to beat their piece. We are on the eve of a great cataclysm in the country. There is only one solution in these conditions – urgently meet and calm society.

Two hours later, Yeltsin held a meeting in the Kremlin and discussed the situation for a long time.

– And who did you collect?

– Managers at various levels. The State Duma was present, I was present and several other leaders of other parties. There were also those who did not hold office, but influenced public opinion. Yeltsin offered the post of prime minister to Yevgeny Primakov, who refused. Yeltsin says – so let Yuri Maslyukov be prime minister – Maslyukov in the USSR and deputy chairman of the country’s Council of Ministers, one of the most experienced managers and executives of companies. I say: he will go to the first deputy, and Primakov should head the government. I begged, persuaded Yevgeny Primakov to become prime minister, he is an authoritative and experienced person. Primakov says: what do you offer me, a noose around my neck? A barrel of oil cost between 12 and 14 dollars, and the gold and foreign exchange reserves were less than 8 billion. bankruptcies 100% bankrupt. I say: tomorrow there will be such an element that there will be no one to collect the country.

In fact, we agreed, Primakov came to the Duma for approval, he had 5-6 points written on a piece of paper. He spoke and was unanimously elected. He was invited to the head of the Bank of Russia, Viktor Gerashchenko, one of the best bankers. The West knew him well, he had international experience. The most surprising thing is that Gerashchenko agreed.

The leadership of the social sphere was offered to Valentina Matvienko, she was the ambassador to Greece. It turned on perfectly, but I saw with my own eyes how the workers of the “social program” actually cried, because in September there was no pension, stipends or salaries to pay. The situation was dire.

– How did you manage to overcome this “terrible situation”?

– Of the last forces. So we made several important decisions. First of all, it was necessary to start the production engine.

Many directors were tied up with bribes, trips abroad, this ugly crook privatization. Maslyukov invited directors, chief technologists, chief engineers, production managers and said: do you have facilities, machines, instruments? Start production. We will give money, but against salary and a specific program. We will check every week and not a penny anywhere to the left, or to the right, or to any market, stock exchange, etc. Production – and all.

By the way, this measure turned out to be a saving. Because machine tools and machines began to rotate, production began to work, construction was supported, high technologies. By the way, that year the industry gave a plus of 24%. This has never been close.

– Where did they get the money if there were continuous defaults?

– Now I can tell you – they printed a lot of money additionally. But if the production was released, like now, on the stock market, nothing would have happened, everyone would have dared to hell. Everything would collapse.

The bankers were told: we will check your banks both in the morning and in the evening, as Peter the Great’s archers measured the land at the boyars. Do not send anything abroad.

– It seems that even now such a measure would be very relevant.

– Now, as in a leaky strainer, the money is leaving the country. Over the past year, 261 billion dollars have been transferred to foreign banks! Crazy money! And what happens is that our businessmen, our state, are taking money to the West, and they are stealing it there. 350 billion dollars arrested! 600 billion! Yes, with this money you can rebuild any country, turn Novorossia into a fabulous city.

And then immediately after the breach, there was nothing similar.

And there was another extremely important measure. They told the gas stations that they will not raise the price of gasoline, diesel or kerosene one cent. Because it could cause riots in the streets. And they endured. The kingdom of heaven to Primakov and Maslyukov, they saved the country then. Only your will, intelligent and competent decisions. By the way, Yeltsin did not interfere for the first six months.

– Did you save your money? Have you burned something?

– Sasha, what kind of money is there? I have never had a lot of money and never could have. .


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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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