"Primakov was pedestrian, and he hadn't done much in the way of reform, but he was predictable," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "The response of the market is the initial feeling of the panic at the void of the unknown opening up in front of them." Primakov had just secured a $4.5 billion stopgap loan from the IMF; that will have to be renegotiated, as will Russia's aid arrangements with the World Bank. Now that the Russian parliament is bracing for another round of reject-the-nominee and Moscow leadership is a vacuum once more, Europe is just waiting for the bleeding to start again.
MOSCOW: Yevgeny Primakov hadn't done much to get the Russian economy on its feet again, but at least he had stopped the bleeding. So when Boris Yeltsin tore the Band-Aid off Wednesday, the rest of Europe recoiled. The euro dipped to near its all-time low, and indexes in Britain, France and Germany fell on the news that yet another Russian government had left and gone away.