President Boris Yeltsin’s return to the hospital for ulcer treatment, along with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s sudden vacation, gave observers much food for thought over the weekend. Political scientist Igor Bunin said Yeltsin, in sending Primakov on vacation, was attempting to show who’s boss. “Boris Nikolaevich, as is known, is a person of power,” Bunich said in a television interview yesterday. “He cannot and does not want to yield power. On the other hand, there are many restrictions. After the party of power was destroyed by [Viktor] Chernomyrdin’s removal [as prime minister] and a new system is, with difficulty, being built with Primakov’s help, Yeltsin has become something of a hostage to the situation. He cannot remove Primakov, cannot completely dominate the political stage. He must share power. And, as a person of power, it is impossible for him to admit that. Psychologically impossible. Hence the ulcer” (NTV, February 28).
However, while Yeltsin may be unable to remove Primakov, this does not mean he cannot take measures to cut Primakov down to size. Indeed, a campaign seems to have begun aimed at Primakov’s two main deputies–Yuri Maslyukov, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), and Gennady Kulik, a member of the Agrarian Party, which is closely allied with the KPRF. Russia’s main weekly television news analysis programs included various segments which attacked the cabinet on various grounds, including alleged corruption and allegedly misinforming the press, the president and the public about the prospects for success in the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. The news programs referred to articles which appeared last week in “Nezavisimaya gazeta” and “Novae izvestia”–both reportedly controlled by CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, a key Primakov foe–detailing corruption charges against Maslyukov and Kulik.
PRESS DETAILS CORRUPTION CHARGES AGAINST CABINET MEMBERS.