Boris Yeltsin, who remains in the Central Clinical Hospital, where he is being treated for a bleeding ulcer, has tasked Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov with implementing Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin’s program of measures for dealing with the Shpigun kidnapping and the overall crisis in Chechnya. Yeltsin also ordered Primakov to come up with “urgent measures” to ensure that the regions around Chechnya are not destabilized (Russian agencies, March 9). It is possible that Yeltsin–who, many observers believe, is locked in a power struggle with Primakov–is foisting the Chechen problem on the prime minister in hopes that it will help sink him. Primakov’s cabinet is to meet today to discuss Chechnya.
Yeltsin, meanwhile, was joined over the weekend in the Central Clinical Hospital by Nikolai Bordyuzha, head of the presidential administration and secretary of Yeltsin’s advisory Security Council. While Bordyuzha officially checked in for heart problems, “Moskovsky komsomolets” (M-K) reported today that his problems are in fact political. Yeltsin is reportedly livid with Bordyuzha for having allowed the news that Yeltsin had relieved Boris Berezovsky of his duties as CIS executive secretary to become public immediately after Yeltsin signed the decree. According to the M-K “version,” the leak put Yeltsin in an “idiotic position” because he had not consulted with the other CIS heads of state on his decision. Indeed, the question of whether all the CIS heads of state will back Berezovsky’s ouster remains open. M-K, citing “highly informed sources,” reports that members of Yeltsin’s inner circle, including his daughter Tatyana, believe that Bordyuzha deliberately set out to undermine Yeltsin, in order to benefit Primakov (Moskovsky komsomolets, March 10).
It should be noted that this week’s issue of a Russian magazine includes an article which sets out to show that Bordyuzha, a former special services official originally thought to have been a “Primakov man,” has actually turned against Primakov and is working on Yeltsin’s behalf against the prime minister (Itogi, March 9). The reports in “Itogi” and M-K, of course, cannot both be true.
Whatever the case, both M-K and this week’s edition of “Argumenty i fakty” report that Yeltsin is considering replacing Bordyuzha with Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s controversial privatization scheme (Moskovsky komsomolets, March 10; Argumenty i fakty, No. 10, March 1999). Chubais served as Yeltsin’s chief of staff in the fall of 1996, after running the president’s successful re-election campaign.
COMMAND STRUCTURE OF RUSSIAN STRATEGIC FORCES REORGANIZED?