This week, Russia announced it would devalue its currency, allowing the ruble to fall against the dollar. At the same time, Russia imposed delays on the repayment of billions of dollars in debt. The Clinton Administration defended the action, claiming that Russia had little choice if it was to avoid economic collapse. However, many mainstream newspapers report that the devaluation will hurt Russian consumers while western banks and corporate interests will be largely unaffected.
People familiar with the situation warn that this could ultimately be a social disaster for the Russian people. The country’s financial crisis has resulted in tens of thousands of workers no longer receiving paychecks. And a union of miners hasn’t been paid since the Spring.
- Boris Kravchenko, the secretary of the Miners Independent Trade Union of Russia, which has approximately 100,000 members.
- Fred Weir, Moscow correspondent for the Canadian press and a contributing editor for In These Times.