Investors Can't Bear More Russian Chaos

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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.

"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.