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Rasputins at Home and Abroad

Before his trip to Rome in February, Boris Yeltsin promised everyone who would listen that he would personally invite the Pope to visit Russia. Yeltsin frequently rattled on in front of reporters, like a football player still sprinting after he is out of bounds. For example, he claimed that the youngster Clinton was pushing the world toward World War III by threatening to bomb Iraq, a claim not even the most hard-line commie-nationalist Duma deputies had made, seeming to mix up in his obviously confused mind the threats themselves with vague apocalyptic visions of his country remaining a major player in the great game of nations. Sergei Yaztrzhembsky, his long suffering press secretary, frequently stepped in to explain what the president really meant (he didn't mean to say that Russia would launch a nuclear strike if the United States bombed Baghdad), dodging any questions about how Mr. Yeltsin is feeling or about who, if anybody, is in charge in the Kremlin. The Russian press began publishing Kremlin leaks about Yeltsin losing his grip, about the "Father of Russian democracy" working only a few hours a day if at all, and about how power had fallen into the hands of Yeltsin's ambitious daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko (named a presidential advisor last year), and Yeltsin's wife, Naina. Naina and Tatyana themselves are reputedly under the sway of a charismatic family advisor, a banker-media-oil magnate with a shady past, onetime...

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