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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Curiously, every time Viktor Chernomyrdin visits Boris Yeltsin at his sanatorium in Barvikha or the hospital, he shows up with an enormous bouquet of flowers. Although all the meetings between the prime minister and the president are announced as working sessions, the bouquet is obligatory, like a firm handshake.

This is all the more striking, since other visitors don't bring the president anything -- neither flowers nor oranges nor gingerbread. Either bringing flowers is the exclusive privilege of the head of government, or Viktor Stepanovich is the only well brought-up person at court.

Then it's all a matter of upbringing. There are no other secrets. The only thing that is left to find out is, where do the flowers come from? Our correspondent asked the head of the government personnel's social security department, Valery Svetlov, about the source of the flowers. When he heard what the journalist was interested in finding out, Mr. Svetlov responded for some reason in English: "No comments."

Why? What could be wrong with bringing flowers?

Svetlov: I don't understand why you're asking such a question. What's behind it?

Nothing at all. We were simply interested in knowing who puts together such magnificent bouquets for the prime minister.

There are several firms that arrange flowers for government receptions. But when there is no time, we buy them in the metro.

And what kind of flowers do you choose for the presidential bouquet -- the ones that Viktor Stepanovich prefers or Boris Nikolayevich?

Neither one. My job is to make sure that Viktor Stepanovich has a bouquet at a certain time. We don't specify what kind.

You mean you don't check what kinds of flowers the head of state receives? Surely certain plants cause allergies, colds and headaches. And Boris Nikolayevich is not in top form.

Your point is well taken, but this does not fall within my competence. Perhaps the Security Council checks, or maybe, no, I don't know.

In any case, in one of the bouquets that Viktor Stepanovich recently brought to Boris Nikolayevich, there were lilies. But as it turned out, there are strict recommendations against these flowers for heart patients: Their scent can cause the heart to beat faster. It is vexing that no one warned the courteous prime minister about this. The man wanted for it to be better, but he brought what he was given.

Obshchaya Gazeta, Oct. 3-9.

Korzhakov's Ally

[Security Council chief Alexander] Lebed promised to help [Yeltsin's former chief bodyguard Alexander Korzhakov] become a State Duma Deputy: "He is a son of his country."

This is a strange argument. Both [human rights defender Andrei] Sakharov and [serial killer Andrei] Chikatilo were sons of their country. And in general, there are sons of the country and sons of bitches of the country.

If Korzhakov were not only a son, but an honest citizen of his country, he would have immediately revealed any compromising materials on government authorities he possessed.

Korzhakov is openly preparing to use what he learned at secret meetings during his government service (which is a crime) for his own personal interests. Or to not make use of them.

If the authorities whom the lieutenant general has something on do not get in his way, then their crimes will remain secret. To use the president's words, "he took much and gave little."

Undoubtedly, Korzhakov knows everything about the highest levels of power. This means that no one will oppose his candidature for Duma deputy.

In response to the question, "Who in your view is capable of replacing Boris Nikolayevich for president," Korzhakov responded: "Lebed."

Lebed announced: "It is necessary to set the government right in the country. We must take strong-willed decisions." A strong will is wonderful. But it is even better if such decisions are carried out within the law.

Alexander Minkin

Novaya Gazeta, Sept. 30.

Chechen Justice

Some comments from an interview with the rebel leader of the Chechen republic, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev.

According to the agreement that was reached in Khasavyurt, the question of Chechnya's status won't be raised until the year 2001. What can happen with Chechnya during the coming five years?

Since 1991, Chechnya has been an independent government. The Khasavyurt agreements only confirmed this status.

The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria has recently adopted a criminal code in which elements of the shariah have been introduced. This means that Chechnya is following along an Islamic path. But your constitution, which was adopted under [the late Chechen leader Dzhokhar] Dudayev affirms that Chechnya is a democratic, secular government.

I am not an advocate of dividing governments into the secular and religious. We see that practically all Western countries are Christian. The government religions there are either Orthodox or Catholic. In the same way we should approach governments that are built on Moslem values. And the criminal code with elements of shariah law had already been worked out in Dudayev's lifetime.

Why do you want to head the coalition government?

According to the Chechen constitution, I represent the executive branch: I am president, and commander-in-chief and head of the government. That Moscow does not want to see me as chairman of the coalition government is very revealing. But I don't dictate whom Russia should nominate to its government posts. Of course, we are willing to listen to any advice or proposals, but advice should always remain advice.

Argumenty i Fakty, October, No. 40.