The news that the IMF and Russia have reached an agreement is likely to have its repercussions on Russia’s political intrigues. Moscow continues to be rife with rumors that President Boris Yeltsin is planning to sack more members of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s cabinet. One report today had it that in the wake of the April 27 firing of First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov, cabinet officials have asked only two questions: “Who’s next?” and “When? (Moskovsky komsomolets, April 29).
Even today, one account quoted the proverbial “anonymous Kremlin source” as saying that First Deputy Prime Minster Yuri Maslyukov–who has been leading the negotiations with the IMF–could be Yeltsin’s next target, and that the pretext for his firing would be his inability to reach an agreement with the fund (Kommersant, April 29).
Today’s news that an agreement has been reached could mean that Maslyukov’s neck has been saved. On the other hand, Yeltsin may simply find another pretext to get rid of both leftist deputies–Kulik and Maslyukov–and hope that their firings will force Primakov to make good on his earlier promise to quit if they are fired.
Some observers have speculated that Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, who replaced Vadim Gustov as first deputy prime minister, could be made acting prime minister should Primakov step down or be fired (see the Monitor, April 28). An report today, however, suggests that in mid-May, after the State Duma votes on impeachment, Primakov will be replaced by Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky. In this scenario, Yavlinsky’s candidacy as premier would be turned down by the Duma three times, which would then give Yeltsin the right to dissolve it and call new elections (Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 29). Yet another account quoted an anonymous source in the presidential administration as saying that Yeltsin may replace Maslyukov with Yavlinsky even before the impeachment vote (Moskovsky komsomolets, April 29).
MOSCOW QUESTIONS ENHANCED U.S.-JAPANESE MILITARY TIES.