Cultural Revolutions

Semi-Safe for Buisness

Aleksandr Lebed, governor of the vast Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, shrugged off rumors circulating in late September that an ailing Boris Yeltsin would appoint the populist "combat general" as premier and then resign, leaving Lebed as acting president. The Krasnoyarsk governor claimed that the time may come when he will be "needed" to "clean up" Yeltsin's "mess," and he did agree that ex-presidents should be guaranteed a quiet retirement (otherwise they "cling to power tooth and nail"), but the "governor general" doubts that even the persuasive Tatvana Dvachenko—Yeltsin's daughter and de facto chief of staff, widely believed to favor such a scenario—could persuade "Boris I" that it is time to go. Yeltsin, Lebed claimed, would hang on to power "as long as he has two brain cells to rub together. The game," Lebed intoned in his unmistakable bass growl, "will go on."

That may be, but a sick and incoherent Yeltsin (at summer's end, Moscow was rife with rumors that his health had taken a turn for the worse) just might be forced to step down, either by members of his entourage ("the Family") hoping to save their own skins or by the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament composed of regional leaders, who are flexing their growing political muscle. The question on the minds of Moscow's...

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