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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Aide Expects to Crack Whip

The newly appointed chief of the president's administration reinforced his hardline image Tuesday, telling reporters that he would bring a new spirit of discipline to the organizations under his control, and calling for the extermination of Chechen "band formations."


"All criminals who have raised arms against their own people should be wiped out," said Nikolai Yegorov, in his first meeting with the press since becoming President Boris Yeltsin's chief of staff Monday.


At the same time, he said that his highest priority in his new job would be to tighten control over the implementation of presidential decrees.


Yegorov's appointment continues a trend away from liberals and democrats in Yeltsin's government. With the departure of Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, the reformers in the government are few and far between. One of the last, Anatoly Chubais, tendered his resignation Tuesday; the economics minister, Yevgeny Yasin, may also be slated to go, according to persistent press reports.


Yegorov, a hawkish former nationalities minister, replaced the liberal Sergei Filatov, and set analysts speculating about the effect that such a sharp change of personalities would have on the administration.


The nature of the position is a bit amorphous. While most analysts agree that the incumbent can command a great deal of influence, they are a bit sketchy on the details.


The label "chief of staff" is something of a misnomer. Yegorov does not control access to the president, or handle his appointment book, or filter the information that gets through to the head of state. These tasks are accomplished by presidential aides, who are independent of the chief of staff.


What Yegorov will do is administer the enormous, unwieldy apparatus that surrounds the president. He will control the funding, personnel policy, and links to presidential representatives in Russia's regions.


"It is a strange position," said Leonid Smirnyagin, of the president's analytical center. "The chief of the administration is at once a political figure and a bureaucrat. "


"The personality of the chief of staff plays a large role," said Sergei Markov, analyst at the Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. "If he is active politically, and an able administrator, then his influence grows."


Markov said Yegorov's functions would often overlap with those of chief presidential aide Viktor Ilyushin.


"They both prepare analyses for the president on various topics. This is characteristic of Yeltsin -- he will have competing organizations engaged in a battle for survival," he said.


Yegorov's predecessor was rumored to have had a bitter relationship with Ilyushin, who commanded a far greater share of the president's attention than did Filatov.


One of Yegorov's most important functions will be his oversight of the presidential representatives throughout the country.


After the poor showing of the governments party, Our Home Is Russia, in the recent parliamentary elections, Yeltsin made clear his displeasure with the work of his people in the provinces.


Yegorov, with his tough-guy talk and ham-handed tactics, is expected to exert more influence on regional leaders than the soft-spoken Filatov.


With presidential elections just five months away, and Yeltsin giving every indication that he will run, Yegorov may be expected to deliver the vote.


"The president will demand that his election campaign be carried out actively in the regions," said Markov. "Yegorov, with his crude, soldier's manner will force the regional leaders to work."