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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Gives Daughter Post as Image Manager

President Boris Yeltsin gave his daughter an official Kremlin post Monday, appointing Tatyana Dyachenko as his image-maker and simultaneously confirming her status as one of Russia's most influential politicians.


Dyachenko, 37, a mathematician who previously worked on designs of the Salyut rocket, has been rumored to be a key Kremlin policy-maker since she helped run her father's difficult re-election campaign last summer.


She also has been a lightning rod for government opponents because of her supposed close relationship with the architect of Russia's controversial privatization campaign, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais.


In further moves as Yeltsin prepares to head off on vacation Monday, the Kremlin said the government would pay all overdue wages to soldiers by August and announced some appointments to top military posts.


Appearing on NTV television's "Hero of the Day" program, Dyachenko said her appointment was made primarily to eliminate ambiguities about her day-to-day role in the Kremlin.


"There was a certain degree of discomfort when people who worked with the president constantly met with the president's daughter," she said. "It is more comfortable for them to speak to a person with a specific government post."


The president's daughter also said she accepted her father's invitation to act as an official Kremlin adviser because she liked to work together with the reform-minded and more energetic Cabinet her father installed last March.


"I am happy the president has formed this new group, even though he does not always feel comfortable working with them," Interfax quoted Dyachenko as saying.


Not since ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, stirred up Moscow with her high-profile manners has a female Russian politician attracted such public scrutiny.


Dyachenko worked diligently to polish Yeltsin's image during the re-election campaign, even reportedly ordering Kremlin bodyguards not to wear sunglasses during Yeltsin's public outings because voters might think they were mobsters.


After helping secure Yeltsin's victory last July, she became a member of a Kremlin analytical center run by Chubais, who at the time was Yeltsin's chief of staff.


Rumors began to swirl that the two had developed an intimate relationship. Last January, Chubais laughed off what he called the "amorous line" of a Communist smear campaign. He said Dyachenko and his wife often exchange phone calls to joke about the rumors.


During Yeltsin's heart ailments last fall, several top Kremlin aides publicly accused Dyachenko of acting as the president's gatekeeper. She and Chubais were at one point accused by Communist parliamentarians of plotting to seize power.


The president's long-serving bodyguard, Alexander Korzhakov, said that during Yeltsin's eight-month illness he would read only documents that were delivered to his hospital bed by his younger daughter. These documents, the opposition further contended, were all drafted by Chubais.


Korzhakov was fired in between the two rounds of last summer's presidential election. Dyachenko was again rumored to be the principle actor in influencing Yeltsin's decision to suddenly part ways with one of his closest friends.


Dyachenko said Monday that Yeltsin particularly trusted her judgment, adding that she has developed a good sense of timing for when to break bad news to her father. She also said she helps Yeltsin with his weekly radio addresses.


The Kremlin worked to clean up several other public relations concerns Monday. Senior ministers promised to pay off all wage arrears to the country's increasingly demoralized servicemen by the end of August. The Kremlin also opened a telephone hot-line for all pensioners to use if their payments don't arrive on time.


In a continuing reshuffle in the top military ranks, Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev was named the new head of Russia's strategic rocket forces to replace Igor Sergeyev, who recently was appointed defense minister.


Russia's starving army has become a hot political issue; Yeltsin fired both the defense minister and the head of general staff in May after accusing them of stalling on reforms.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said Monday that he will "do everything possible" to pay all wage arrears owed to the military by the end of August. The Kremlin claims it has already paid back all of Russia's pensioners effective this week.


Chernomyrdin also demanded a formal apology from fellow Our Home is Russia faction member Lev Rokhlin -- a respected retired army general who heads a parliament defense committee -- for predicting the army's ruin in an open letter to Yeltsin.


Breaking ranks with the government last week, Rokhlin sent Yeltsin a scolding letter contending that the president was directly responsible for Russia's bloody 21-month war with the breakaway North Caucasus region of Chechnya.


Chernomyrdin called Rokhlin's comments a "crass political mistake" and said during a faction meeting Monday that Rokhlin might soon be expelled from the party for his comments.


"Rokhlin should acknowledge his mistake and make the necessary conclusions. But if he decides that this is his real position, then the faction must make the appropriate decision," Chernomyrdin said.