The Soviet leadership has rejected suggestions that its commitment to reform is shaky and has spoken of a Western plot to overthrow President Mikhail Gorbachev by flooding the Soviet economy with rubles.

During talks with French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas Tuesday Gorbachev angrily rejected statements by Soviet reformists that his policies had veered sharply to the right and that perestroika was in jeopardy."The president became sharp and critical over recent suspicions and inventions which would have it that the Soviet leadership had changed its policies, was rejecting reform or returning to totalitarianism," Tass news agency said.

Criticism of Gorbachev has mounted dramatically among Soviet liberals following the death of 21 people in the Baltic republics in recent incidents involving the security forces.

Western leaders have also denounced the killings and Gorbachev has promised an investigation into the army's actions.

But Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov stole the limelight Tuesday with allegations of a plot by Western banks to topple Gorbachev's administration by flooding the Soviet Union with rubles.

"There is nothing unique in it. Such actions have been carried out in many regions of the world in order to change a political system and oust inconvenient politicians," he told the trade union daily Trud. "President Gorbachev was getting in someone's way."


(Additional information)

Soviet official resigns

Gennady Filshin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation and linked to a British businessman suspected of illegal currency trading, resigned Wednesday, Soviet news reports said. No reason was given for the resignation, which was accepted by the Council of Ministers for the Russian Federation, the largest of the 15 republics that comprise the Soviet Union.