In his weekly radio broadcast today, President Boris Yeltsin appealed for national unity and said he intends to remain in office for his full four-year term. Speaking from the sanitarium where he is preparing for heart surgery, Yeltsin instructed his ministers to stop bickering and get back to work; those who continued to "electioneer" would be dismissed "without regrets," he warned. (BBC World Service, October 25) Yesterday, Yeltsin’s press secretary said the president had instructed him to deny the claim, made earlier in the week by former national security adviser Aleksandr Lebed, that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin would soon be fired. (AP, UPI, October 24)
A week has passed since Lebed was sacked but there has been no let-up in Kremlin infighting. In an interview published in this week’s Moscow News, Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov repeated his allegations that Lebed had mustered and armed a private security guard which, Kulikov said, was interfering in the efforts of the Interior Ministry to apprehend criminals in Moscow. Before leaving Moscow for a week’s holiday, Lebed told journalists that Prime Minister Chernomyrdin had outlived his usefulness and predicted that he would be dismissed by the middle of November. Lebed said that both he and Chernomyrdin were victims of Presidential Chief of Staff Anatoly Chubais. Lebed’s allegations were repeated by disgraced Kremlin security chief Aleksandr Korzhakov, who told a British newspaper that Yeltsin was being fed false information not only by Chubais but also by Yeltsin’s daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko. Boris Yeltsin "has never liked to watch TV or listen to the radio," Korzhakov said. "Now that he is ill, I do not think he even reads the newspapers." (Moskovsky komsomolets, October 24)
Many Russian commentators allege that Chubais is gradually taking control of the country. The Duma is working on a bill that would limit the powers of Yeltsin’s administration, but the Kremlin has declared that such a bill is unconstitutional (the constitution says that the president forms his own administration without outside intervention, even by parliament) and that the president will veto any effort by parliament to interfere. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 23)
IMF Delays Loan to Russia.