Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 154

There is increasing evidence that Yeltsin may be too sick to rule and that he has relinquished control of the government. As Grozny prepared to face another bloodbath yesterday and thousands of terrified civilians fled the city, Yeltsin was not conferring with his ministers and military commanders but, if his spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky was to be believed, had left Moscow by helicopter in search of a suitable vacation spot. Yastrzhembsky tried to convince journalists that the fact that Yeltsin had made the 2 hour 20 minute helicopter journey was itself proof that the president was in good health. (NTV, August 20) But Yeltsin has been seen in public only once in the past eight weeks (at his August 9 inauguration) and there are serious grounds for doubting whether he is able to control developments. According to newspaper reports, Yeltsin did not meet with his security adviser Aleksandr Lebed after the general’s second visit to Chechnya on August 15 and did not even talk to Lebed on the telephone — though Yeltsin is reported to have telephoned Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov during the evening of August 16, following Lebed’s extraordinary "him or me" ultimatum, to instruct Kulikov to remain in his post. (Segodnya, Kommersant-daily, August 20)

Kremlin Leaders Continue to Spar over Chechnya Policy.