President Boris Yeltsin’s grip on power is a pretty limp handshake. He can’t shake a determined prosecutor, the legislature defies him, and his own government blithely ignores his policy advice.

The prosecutor, Yuri Skuratov, is conducting at least three major investigations into affairs which could expose the finances of the president personally or members of his family. Though the president wants him out of there, Skuratov continues to investigate possible fraud and embezzlement in Kremlin contracts with a Swiss construction firm and in Central Bank transactions in the weeks before last August’s financial meltdown. He is also pursuing tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a long-time Yeltsin supporter. Investigators staged raids last week–not for the first time–on businesses linked to Berezovsky’s empire and arrested one of his key allies. As prosecutor general Skuratov is a presidential nominee, but under the constitution he is hired and fired by the upper house of parliament on the president’s recommendation. Three weeks ago, the upper house, where regional leaders sit as the Federation Council, rejected Skuratov’s resignation 142-5-3 after Yeltsin had sent it over. Many of the governors who sit in the Federation Council were originally Yeltsin appointees, and in the past, the Council was solidly behind the president. On this issue at least, it was solidly against him.

And in the lower house, or Duma, two counts of impeachment appear to have the 300 (out of 450) votes needed for passage. A vote could occur in the next few days. Removal of the president by the impeachment process requires two-thirds support in both houses plus approval by the Supreme and the Constitutional Courts. That remains implausible, but no longer impossible.

And his own government does not pay him much respect. In addressing Kosovo in his annual “state of the nation” speech to parliament last week, Yeltsin chose his words carefully. Russia, he said, “will not allow itself to be drawn into the conflict,” and he took pains to emphasize the importance of good relations with the West. But his prime minister and defense minister the following day ordered a naval reconnaissance vessel to the region, while his foreign minister accused NATO of “undisguised genocide.”