Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 196

President Yeltsin has dismissed Aleksandr Lebed from his final remaining post — presidential envoy to Chechnya — and appointed Ivan Rybkin as Security Council secretary and chief negotiator with Chechnya. Yeltsin’s spokesman said the president has not yet decided whether it is "worth while" appointing someone to Lebed’s third post as security adviser. Yeltsin met with Rybkin on Saturday and, in a dig at Lebed, told Rybkin to act "within the bounds of the powers given to the Security Council by the president." (Interfax, Itar-Tass, October 19)

Rybkin, 50, is Yeltsin’s creature and will do what he is told. Originally, however, the two men were political opponents. Elected to the Russian Supreme Soviet in 1990, Rybkin belonged to the Communists of Russia faction and was among the defenders of the Russian White House during the October 1993 parliamentary rebellion. At the end of that year, he was elected to the Duma as a member of the Agrarian party. When Rybkin was elected speaker of the Duma in 1994 by a single vote, Yeltsin denounced the election as "illegal" and "unconstitutional." But Rybkin appears to have been profoundly affected by his experience under fire in October 1993: he broke with the Agrarian party and proved so accommodating as speaker that he and Yeltsin became close allies. Last summer, Yeltsin chose Rybkin to lead one of the two parties — the right of center " Russia is Our Home" and the left of center "Ivan Rybkin’s bloc" — that Yeltsin hoped would evolve into the two-party system that Russia has so far failed to generate. But Rybkin’s bloc never captured the public imagination (it never even got a proper name). When it became clear shortly before the election that his party had no hope of clearing the five percent hurdle for representation in the Duma, Rybkin tried (and failed) to get the election rules changed. Rybkin himself was elected in a single-mandate constituency. When the Communists refused to consider him for speaker, Yeltsin created a job for Rybkin by making him chairman of the president’s Political Consultative Council — an unelected, unconstitutional body made up of those parties that failed to clear the five percent hurdle. This body also failed to win public support and has kept a low profile.

Chechen Opposition Reacts Cautiously to Rybkin Appointment.