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AMID CRISIS, PARLIAMENT WANTS YELTSIN TO RESIGN

Russia's parliament called overwhelmingly on Friday for President Boris Yeltsin to resign and blasted his government's handling of a financial crisis that Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said had only just begun.

The State Duma, or lower house, called for changes in the central bank leadership and government, new policies, nationalization of some banks and limits to foreign participation in domestic markets.

It said new cash should be printed and the privatization of strategically important companies suspended.

"The country is in a deep crisis and the president is not taking measures to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens . . . which has created a realistic threat to Russia's territorial integrity, independence and security," the Duma said in a hard-hitting, non-binding resolution.

As the Duma hit out at Yeltsin and his 4-month old cabinet, Russian shares slid by more than 6 percent in thin trading.

But chief debt negotiator Anatoly Chubais sought to reassure foreign investors, saying he was sure Russia could meet all the targets set by the International Monetary Fund under a recent bailout deal and promised the debt restructuring plan would be fair on foreign companies.

He said problem banks should be allowed to go bankrupt.

Even after the government effectively devalued the ruble this week, the opposition-led Duma has almost no chance of dislodging Yeltsin or forcing Kiriyenko to change policy.

In a speech to deputies, Kiriyenko underlined the gravity of Russia's problems and called on the Duma to start working with the government.

He defended his latest actions, which include announcing a compulsory restructuring of short-term commercial foreign debt worth an estimated $40 billion, and sticking to market reforms.

Yeltsin, visiting the Arctic Kola peninsula, did not comment directly on the financial crisis, but made clear he paid little heed to the criticism of his foes in parliament.

"These are ordinary procedures," he said in the city of Murmansk before watching a naval exercise. "They must not forget there is still a president. Some people forget that."

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