Since the appearance of a jubilant Anatoly Chubais on Russian TV screens last week, speculation has been high that the former economic policy overlord is about to return to government. Chubais, whose role as privatization czar made him deeply unpopular with many members of the Russian population, lost his cabinet post in January. In March, he made an unannounced return to the Yeltsin team, replacing his rival Oleg Soskovets as mastermind of the president’s reelection campaign. Yeltsin’s press secretary, Sergei Medvedev, warned last week that Chubais’ triumphal appearances on Russian TV in the wake of Soskovets’ sacking could alienate voters and hurt Yeltsin’s campaign chances. (Itar-Tass, June 20) Addressing a weekend press conference, prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was noncommittal, saying he expected Yeltsin to reshuffle his government if he wins reelection on July 3 but that many of the present team would likely retain their jobs. He refused to commit himself as to whether or not Chubais would return to the cabinet. (Interfax, June 22)
Russian Satellite Launch Fails.