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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Ties Putin's Future to Elections, Chechnya

A top Kremlin official said Tuesday that President Boris Yeltsin was pleased with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but his position could be undermined by reverses in Chechnya and a surprise outcome in December's election.

Igor Shabdurasulov, the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff, said Putin got off to a good start after his appointment in August, when Yeltsin named him as his preferred successor. But Shabdurasulov said concerns remained whether the prime minister had the resolve to stay the course.

"It is a fact that today President Boris Yeltsin is very impressed with Putin's performance," he said at a news conference.

"But it is also true that Putin has encountered great difficulty when dealing with the North Caucasus and other matters. I hope to goodness ... he has the will power and determination to push through everything he started."

A tough-talking ex-KGB spy and former head of the FSB domestic security police, Putin has won praise for beating back two incursions by Chechen rebels into neighboring Dagestan and sending troops into Chechnya to pursue the rebels.

Putin has doubled his approval rating in polls in the past two months to 65 percent and has climbed to the top of surveys ranking candidates in next year's presidential elections.

Shabdurasulov dismissed rumors of imminent Cabinet changes, but said the outcome of the election for the State Duma, parliament's lower house, could have an impact on Putin's line-up.

"Possibly, after the vote, as a result of a new make-up of political forces, the issue of changes inside the Cabinet ... may arise," Shabdurasulov said.

Opinion polls show former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's Fatherland-All Russia bloc and the Communists are likely to do well in December, followed by the liberal Yabloko party.

Yeltsin is to go on vacation for at least a week starting Wednesday, his press spokesman was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Interfax news agency quoted Dmitry Yakushkin as saying that Yeltsin would spend a part of his holiday on Russia's Black Sea coast.

Kremlin officials have said for several weeks that Yeltsin was preparing for a vacation. He spent two days in hospital this month being treated for flu.