Perhaps the most important aspect of Victor Chernomyrdin’s selection as President Boris Yeltsin’s official representative in the Balkans conflict is that it casts a further shadow over Primakov. During his seven months as prime minister, Primakov has not, to put it mildly, won any laurels for how he has managed the Russian economy. Were Chernomyrdin to make actual or perceived gains in resolving the conflict, Primakov would be even further weakened, particularly given that foreign policy and diplomacy is putatively his strong point.
One account today went so far as to say that Yeltsin, in naming Chernomyrdin his special envoy for the Yugoslavian crisis, had “in essence named a parallel premier” (Kommersant, April 15). While that may be something of an exaggeration, another source reported that Chernomyrdin’s nomination was “lobbied” by two Kremlin insiders believed to be among Primakov’s main ill-wishers–former Kremlin chief of staff Valentin Yumashev, who is said to retain a strong influence in Yeltsin’s inner circle, and Tatyana Dyachenko, the president’s daughter and “image” adviser (Segodnya, April 15).
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