Only two days after Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov denounced a Russian newspaper for allegedly trying to sow political discord between himself and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov (see the Monitor, April 19), Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday lodged a similar complaint himself. During a Kremlin meeting with media leaders, the Russian president called on his guests to stop trying to set him against the country’s prime minister. “Do not try to provoke quarrels [between Primakov and me],” Yeltsin was quoted as saying. “When you start pushing [us against each other], the public becomes uncertain; people begin to wonder who is right–the president or the prime minister.” Yeltsin went on to say that he and Primakov continue to work together constructively: “We respect each other,” he said, “consult with each other on various problems and meet on a regular basis–at least once a week” (Itar-Tass, April 19).
The Kremlin guests may have been forgiven for treating Yeltsin’s words with some skepticism. The recent political struggles between the president and prime minister have been initiated by the Kremlin itself, and Yeltsin appeared yesterday to have some fun at Primakov’s expense. In further comments to media representatives, Yeltsin intimated that the government’s performance has been less than ideal. He also said that Primakov was unused to accepting criticism, but that he–Yeltsin–would help him to get accustomed to it.
Yeltsin handed out awards and grants to members of the press during the Kremlin ceremony yesterday. He urged the media not to engage in personal attacks while declaring his support for freedom of the press (Russian agencies, April 19).
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