As had been expected, Russian president Boris Yeltsin yesterday stripped First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais of his post as finance minister. (Reuter, November 20) "Chubais has done much for the country and will be credited for that," Yeltsin said in an informal television address, parts of which were shown by the three main television channels. The consensus in Moscow, however, is that Chubais’s career has been fatally undermined by the developments of the past ten days. Yeltsin had earlier sacked three of Chubais’s closest associates — Privatization Minister Maksim Boiko, bankruptcy agency head Petr Mostovoi, and First Deputy Chief of the presidential staff Aleksandr Kazakov — for their role in the scandal in which each received a lucrative book advance from Oneksimbank. All the men deny any wrongdoing, yet all were in a position to advance the interest of Oneksimbank from within the government. The Communist-dominated Duma, which had urged Yeltsin to drop Chubais altogether, responded to his retention as first deputy prime minister by delaying debate on the draft 1998 federal budget until next month.
In place of Chubais as finance minister, Yeltsin has appointed Mikhail Zadornov, 34, a respected economist who belongs to the Yabloko parliamentary faction. Zadornov’s agreement to take the post, made in consultation with Yabloko, marks a first for Russia: until now, Yabloko had denied its members permission to serve on the Yeltsin team.
Question Marks Surround Russian Deal with Iraq.