Buddy, Can You Spare a (Few) Billion?

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Last week Boris Yeltsin said the worst of Russia's financial crisis was over; today his government stuck out the begging bowl. Anatoly Chubais -- the cabinet minister fired in disgrace three months ago but reinstated today in the belief that he's capable of persuading the West to fork over cash -- called for international financial institutions to come up with a $10 billion to $15 billion bailout. "The appointment of Chubais signals the depths of despair of the political and financial elite," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "They fact that they're asking international institutions for such a large amount is a sign that they're in a state of something close to panic -- they've run out of ideas." Of course, with the teetering yen threatening further turmoil in Asia, this may not be the best time to be asking Western bankers for help.