Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 11

Tumultuous developments of recent days appear to have left Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin marginalized in the Kremlin. Despite a low-key meeting yesterday with Boris Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin played no public role in the recent shake-up of Yeltsin’s staff that brought hawks into several key positions, nor in the conduct of military operations in Dagestan. As those events unfolded January 15, Chernomyrdin was reported to be home with a "cold." The victory of hard-liners was apparent when both Yeltsin and his newly named chief of staff Nikolai Yegorov suggested publicly that the seizure of hostages in Dagestan reflected the failure of Chernomyrdin’s high-profile negotiations last summer. Those negotiations led to a peaceful resolution of the June 1995 Budennovsk hostage crisis. Yeltsin was quoted as saying that "if rebels are not punished they will go and seize another town." (3) Yegorov was blunter, arguing that his "gloomy forecasts about developments in Chechnya proved true." According to Yegorov, the "no-war, no-peace" situation following Budennovsk resulted in federal losses comparable to those incurred during hostilities. The appointment of First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets as head of Yeltsin’s putative re-election committee simultaneously dealt a blow to any remaining presidential ambitions harbored by Chernomyrdin. Should Yeltsin decide not to make another bid for the presidency, Soskovets will probably ensure that the committee does not become a vehicle for Chernomyrdin. (4)

…As Yegorov, Soskovets Suggest Economic Policy May Change.