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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Yeltsin Frustrated Expectations of a 'Bloodletting'




[Prime Minister] Viktor Chernomyrdin's speech at the enlarged government session Feb. 26, which lasted more than an hour, was peppered with several vivid, stylistic witticisms, each of which had a political goal. But perhaps his most remarkable statement was that "the government is accused of carrying out monetarist policies. I admit we are carrying them out. But carrying them out poorly. This means that we will carry out our just monetary cause to the end."


Chernomyrdin belongs to a generation that remembers what caused his distant predecessor to say, "Our cause is just. We will smash our enemy. Victory will be ours." What a long path the former oil and gas commander must have passed through in order to allow for such an analogy to so unpopular a cause as monetarism.


"State finances remind me of virtual reality," the prime minister said in another of his noteworthy remarks. He said the adoption of a real budget is the government's main task, and spent some time trying to convince those present that the recent amendments to the budget by the government are in earnest. The circumstances have changed from the days when the government agreed to raise spending by 27 billion rubles [$4.5 billion]. Now there is a hole in the budget -- 50 billion rubles -- and nothing can be done but to cut spending.


At the end of the speech, Chernomyrdin let it be understood that he was not indifferent to several recent political and semipolitical scandals.


"The government will not allow any one to walk over it -- no educational, party and especially international institutions," he said in remarks that were interpreted as a response to the reproaches of some journalists and politicians that the International Monetary Fund is giving orders to the Russian government. Later in the speech he raised the theme of the relations between power and business. The prime minister considered the accusation that even high-level officials are sometimes the protectors of unfair competition to be "not always without some basis."


The speech was thorough and contained many interesting facts, but those present were expecting something else. They have long awaited the promised "bloodletting." Since December, people have been hashing and rehashing in every way the question: Who will be fired?


Otto Latsis


Noviye Izvestia


Serious Political Farce


Everything that went on at the enlarged government session left a strong impression of theatricality and falseness.


After a half-hour recess, the president unexpectedly disappeared. It was reminiscent of an escape from a tedious and boring ceremony. Boris Yeltsin is not new to theatrical political performances, but yesterday's act evidently moved into the realm of farce. The comedy intensified after the president's press service explained his sudden disappearance by saying its boss needed to write his traditional Friday address.


The president prepares his radio address every week, and there was no need to leave the White House without giving an explanation. The reaction of the stock market only goes to show what immediate serious consequences political farce can have for the entire country.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Feb. 27


Poor Tea Service


There was only one government service that could be singled out for dismissal at the meeting -- the one responsible for providing the orators and guests with glasses for the water and tea. During the prime minister's address, at precisely the moment when he was dressing down [Valery] Serov [deputy prime minister for relations with other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States], something irritated Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin's] throat (perhaps the deputy prime minister was about to be fired) and the president began to cough. There was no glass of water next to him. The head of state had to drink from [Federation Council Chairman] Yegor Stroyev's bottle. When it was Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev's turn to speak, they also failed to bring him some water, and he had to make due with the tea that the prime minister had not finished.


Could it be that in the government as a whole, it is the glass service that is not doing its job?


Komsomolskaya Pravda, Feb. 27


Party Meeting Revisited


The governmental report at the enlarged Cabinet meeting turned out to be as eventful as opening a carbonated beverage. However heated passions had been over the dismissals of unnamed ministers, what actually occurred was quite boring. The event proceeded like a good old [Communist] Party meeting where there is something to argue over, but everyone knows their part ahead of time, and there is nothing to fear.


Even the collisions predicted between the government and the Duma did not take place. Only two deputies took the stand: Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Nikolai Kharitonov from the Agrarian Party, who gave a long speech about the endless troubles facing the agriculture sector. Chernomyrdin gave a philosophically soothing response: "Yes, things are difficult, but when have they ever been easy?"


Segodnya, Feb. 27