THE FORTNIGHT IN REVIEW
Publication: Prism Volume: 4 Issue: 20
If that were not enough, Boris Yeltsin’s health problems flared up again, with the Russian head of state truncating a swing through Central Asia after coming down with bronchitis. Several near-falls while in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as well as clear signs of disorientation, led to a frenzy of speculation in the press over whether Yeltsin’s drinking problems had recurred, or whether he was suffering, as one psychiatrist stated openly, from the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Yeltsin’s decline was clearly a factor in Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s decision to announce that he would, under certain circumstances, run for president as the head of a “left-center” coalition. Luzhkov’s demarche, in turn, sparked a similar statement from State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev, who said that he himself was the rightful “left-center” presidential candidate. Seleznev called for a referendum on whether Yeltsin should step down, which he several days later amended to a call that the president resign voluntarily. While Luzhkov at first admonished those–from Seleznev to Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov to Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed–who had used Yeltsin’s physical and mental distress as an opportunity to demand his resignation, within a day he, too, said that Yeltsin’s obviously declining condition might force his resignation.
RUSSIA AND THE WEST: AT ODDS OVER KOSOVO