Should Yeltsin run for a second presidential term in June, Viktor Chernomyrdin’s future looks bleak. Not simply because Yeltsin, rather than his prime minister, would be the candidate of the ruling coalition, but because the Russian president will have to reinvent himself as a populist hero in order to mount a credible campaign. According to the latest issue of Pravda-5, Yeltsin must distance himself from his government’s unpopular policies, especially the privatization process. Pravda-5 predicts that Yeltsin will use Chernomyrdin’s links with Menatep Bank to turn the premier into "the scapegoat for ‘foreign’ privatization." (8) Menatep won a controlling share in the Yukos oil company against strong opposition from other leading Russian banks in a state-sponsored auction last month. Pravda-5 alleges the shares were sold at an artificially low price, representing the government’s reward to Menatep for the large donation it is rumored to have made to Chernomyrdin’s unsuccessful parliamentary campaign.
The Russian Rich.