Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin says that he has no intentions of running for the Russian presidency, and that recent mass media stories of a rift between him and Boris Yeltsin are totally wrong. Federation Council chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, who is known to be close to Yeltsin, implicitly backed Chernomyrdin by saying that Russia ought to be happy with a prime minister like him, and that rumors of his possible replacement are fantasy. (4)
Last week’s media speculations about Chernomyrdin’s possible retirement may have originated in reaction to reports that the government was planning to reduce the size of the Russian bureaucracy. According to several drafts circulating within the Chernomyrdin government and in the presidential administration, duplicative governmental bodies would be eliminated and other departments would be consolidated or merged. These plans have struck fear into the hearts of Moscow bureaucrats, whose numbers have by some accounts increased by 60 percent over Soviet-period levels.
Skokov Denies Contacts With Yeltsin.