Soviet Premier Valentin Pavlov said Tuesday that Western banks are part of a conspiracy to wage economic war on the Soviet Union and possibly overthrow President Mikhail Gorbachev by flooding the country with rubles.

Pavlov, the former finance minister, said the decree last month eliminating old 100 and 50 ruble notes was necessary to protect the country from "financial catastrophe" planned by outside forces and was not aimed at confiscating cash held by Soviet citizens."It is known that for a long time a large influx of money into our country was being prepared," Pavlov said in an interview.

"It was being done with various means, among them buying 50 and 100 ruble banknotes," Pavlov said. "Bank organizations in our country were involved, also a number of private banks in Austria, Switzerland and Canada."

Pavolv refused to name the Western banks, saying "financial war is going on against us and in war one should not disclose to the enemy everything one knows about him."