Yeltsin to Russia: Wish You Were Here

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If your guest has egg on his face, what's the polite thing to do? Splash some on your own -- which may be Boris Yeltsin's thinking as he awaits President Clinton's September 1 visit. Russia's leader returned to his month-long vacation Tuesday, while his country reeled under the shock of Monday's ruble devaluation. "Should the latest package fail to stem the crisis, Russia's political establishment will be totally discredited," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "They have too often claimed to have found a way out of their economic woes, only to be proved wrong each time." Indeed, Yeltsin had insisted last Friday that all was well with the economy.

Western bankers and governments are anxious about the devaluation, while Russians are enraged. The Kremlin says the crisis is rooted in a lack of confidence in Russia's markets by foreign investors, "but confidence was lacking because there was no sign this government could do any better than its predecessors," says Quinn-Judge. And this week's fiscal spasms are unlikely to restore Western faith in Yeltsin.