Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 166

Interviewed on Russian Television on Friday evening (September 6), Aleksandr Lebed called on President Yeltsin to transfer his presidential powers to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin while he has his heart operation at the end of September. (NTV, September 6)

Lebed thus added his voice to that of the speaker of the Russian Duma, Gennady Seleznev, who warned that if Yeltsin did not step down voluntarily while undergoing surgery, the Duma would appeal to the Constitutional Court for a ruling. (Interfax, September 6) (In fact, as everyone recognizes, the constitution is vague on the matter. Article 92 states merely that, "should the president be unable to fulfill his responsibilities, they are temporarily executed by the prime minister.")

Lebed’s unexpected endorsement of Chernomyrdin fueled speculation that the two men, generally considered to be rivals not only for the president’s ear but also for his position, had reached some kind of an understanding, probably at the expense of the third member of the presidential troika, Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Chubais. Chubais reacted with a statement that, if Yeltsin did decide to hand his powers over to Chernomyrdin, he would do so only for the duration of the operation, no longer than 48 hours. (Doctors have said Yeltsin may be off work for two to three months.) (Interfax, September 7)

U.S. Reaffirms Backing for NATO Enlargement; Proposes Special Relationship with Russia.