Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President, Spy Chief Discuss 'Coup' Plot

Boris Yeltsin met with Russia's security chief Tuesday to discuss the document that described a "palace coup" plot against the president and sent tremors through Moscow while he vacationed by the Black Sea.


The Kremlin, meanwhile, stepped up an apparent campaign to provide the press with positive reports about Yeltsin's health and fitness to govern until the next presidential election in 1996, with one newspaper receiving a rare interview with the president's wife, Naina.


Yeltsin's press service put out a statement saying that Yeltsin and Sergei Stepashin, head of the Federal Counterintelligence Service, had discussed security in general and an investigation into the plot document in particular.


On Friday, Stepashin said his agency had uncovered four authors of the document, called "Version No. 1," but refused to name them. The document has been denounced almost universally as a forgery, but it set out a convincing enough scenario to frighten many Russian democrats.


Itar-Tass reported Tuesday that the Public Prosecutor's Office had opened criminal proceedings for libel against the unknown persons who sent the document to the weekly newspaper Obshchaya Gazeta, which published it on March 18.


The document's publication coincided with a wave of rumors that Yeltsin, 63, who had left Moscow on March 14 for a two-week vacation, was seriously ill. A U.S. television report said that Yeltsin could be suffering from potentially fatal cirrhosis of the liver.


The president, who returned Sunday evening from his stay at the resort town of Sochi, has dismissed the rumors as a provocation, making his views known most strongly in an interview that ran on the front page of Izvestia on Saturday.


That interview, conducted by the liberal daily's editor-in-chief, Igor Golembiovsky, launched what appears to be a Kremlin campaign to present a healthy, vibrant image of Yeltsin.


In her comments to Komsomolskaya Pravda on Tuesday, the president's wife concentrated on rebutting the health rumors.


"All these conversations about illnesses are dirty politics," Mrs. Yeltsin said in the interview, which the newspaper said was carried out in a Sochi clothes store.


"Why have people suddenly started making a noise about this? Because 1996 is approaching and they have to prove somehow that Boris Nikolayevich is ill," she said, referring to the year Yeltsin's term as president runs out.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin kept up the theme in an interview with the German magazine Stern, Reuters reported."Anyone who wants to test Yeltsin's health should play tennis with him," Chernomyrdin told Stern. "Yeltsin is in charge of the situation. He will serve out his period of office until 1996."


Izvestia, meanwhile, ran a front-page article Tuesday with the unlikely headline "Yeltsin Kicks Off the Presidential Election Campaign."


The newspaper said that, although Yeltsin will not be a candidate in 1996, the president had effectively launched the race through some of his comments to Izvestia in the Saturday interview.


The newspaper went on to list six candidates for the race, although it did not specify how it had made its selection. The six were: Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Mayor Yury Luzhkov and former Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov of the Yeltsin camp and, from the opposition, Yury Skokov, the former national security adviser; the ultranational Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and the former vice president, Alexander Rutskoi.


Conspicuously absent from the list were a number of men whose names have been frequently mentioned as possible presidential contenders, among them Grigory Yavlinsky, Vladimir Shumeiko and Yegor Gaidar.


The official line in the Kremlin remains that Yeltsin has not made up his mind on his own candidacy.