Soros: IMF Should Not Help Russia

The Associated Press

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2000. 4:51 p.m. EST

DAVOS, Switzerland U.S. financier George Soros said Sunday that the International Monetary Fund should pull out of Russia in view of the current political climate there.

Foreign institutions and investors “have lost the ability to influence the direction of events” in Russia, said Soros, chairman of the influential Soros Fund Management, during a news conference at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Soros pointed to the conflict in the breakaway republic of Chechnya as a worrying sign.

With civilian deaths in Chechnya and hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting, Western countries have criticized the war, which is popular among Russians.

“For 10 years…we had the ability to influence things in Russia and move them in the right direction and we flubbed it,” said Soros, who as a philanthropist has spent more than $350 million on charitable projects in Russia during the past decade.

With Russia now moving in the wrong direction, the IMF should pull out, he said.

On Saturday, the IMF’s second-ranking official said the fund may delay paying Russia the second $460 million installment of a $4.5 billion loan until after presidential elections in March.

Stanley Fischer told reporters there is little evidence to suggest Moscow has made progress with some economic reforms crucial to approving the installment.

The payment originally was due in September, but was delayed after the IMF imposed new conditions amid international concern about what happened to previous loans.

The Russian government is counting on receiving four IMF installments of $460 million each in 2000 to help finance its budget. The IMF agreed to the loan program last July, releasing $640 million at the time.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers urged the Russian government Sunday to rebuild its economy around the “rule of law,” taking steps to combat corruption and revive confidence among both local and international investors.

Summers met Sunday with Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia’s finance minister. The two discussed economic conditions in Russia and “in general terms” Moscow’s rocky relationship with the IMF, Summers said.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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