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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Speaker's Ire Shakes Swedes

Harsh statements by parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov about the performance of President Boris Yeltsin to a Swedish government delegation left the visitors "astonished", and the Russian Foreign Ministry contrite, Interfax reported.

During a public address to Carl Bildt, the prime minister of Sweden, Khasbulatov said that Yeltsin was "unable to cope with his duties".

Bildt, quoted in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said that his "meeting with Khasbulatov, the Russian speaker, had been a most incongenial affair", the agency said.

"The astonishment of the Swedish prime minister is understandable", Interfax quoted a high-ranking Russian diplomat as saying.

The Russian Foreign Ministry hoped that "this episode, which reflects the lack of experience of Russian democracy, will not leave Mr. Bildt with poor impressions of what we consider to be a highly successful visit to Russia", the diplomat said.

The diplomat said that Khasbulatov's criticism of Yeltsin during the official visit had broken "unwritten but widely understandable rules of international behavior", the agency reported.

Khasbulatov, who has opposed many of the president's reform initiatives, has become an increasingly vocal rival of Yeltsin and his government.

The mercurial speaker has used various domestic forums to fire salvos at the president, but this was the first time he has used an international meeting.