. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Inaugural Officials Struggle Over Agenda

With just three days to go before Friday's presidential inauguration, organizers were still struggling Tuesday to come up with a plan.


Originally envisaged as a lavish ceremony on the Kremlin's Cathedral Square, with ritual reminiscent of tsarist days, the event has been scaled back, sending the media into a flurry of speculation about Boris Yeltsin's health.


Interfax quoted Kremlin sources Tuesday as saying that the ceremony may be moved indoors to the Kremlin Palace, ostensibly for financial and meteorological considerations.


According to the source, it would cost almost 9 billion rubles (over $1,700,000) to have the festivities in Cathedral Square, which would accommodate about 3,000 participants and guests. In contrast, the source said, the Kremlin Palace can accommodate about 5,000, making the ceremony much cheaper.


Also, weather forecasters predict that there may be rainy weather Friday morning, accompanied by a strong northeasterly wind. This would "substantially lower the entertaining effect of the ceremony," according to organizers.


Possible changes in the ceremony "are absolutely not connected with the state of Yeltsin's health as Western mass media reports during the last period of time," the source told Interfax.


But the president has not yet made a final decision on any changes to the ceremony, which is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m. and last a half hour, Interfax reported.


Yeltsin is expected to make only a two- to three-minute address to the nation after his oath of office, according to Alexander Shokhin, first deputy chairman of the State Duma and member of the inauguration commission.


Originally, the president was to address the nation before taking the oath. The commission expressed the opinion, however, that Yeltsin should not address the people before assuming his duties.


On the other hand, the oath is the ceremony's culmination, after which speeches are illogical, Shokhin said.


"Anyway, we think that in addition to the universal constitutional text of the oath, intended for centuries, the president should say a couple of historic words and add something of his own," Shokhin said.


During the ceremony, foreign countries will be represented only by their ambassadors, he said. "No official invitations were sent out, except to the leaders of the CIS countries," he added.


"All of them have accepted the invitation, even Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who will mark his birthday on Aug. 9," Shokhin said.


Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II is likely to say a few words at the ceremony. "These are going to be simple words, not a blessing or unction," Shokhin said.


The ceremony will be accompanied by an artillery salute and there will be fireworks in the evening.