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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Told to Choose Between Duma and Yeltsin

The Kremlin on Monday continued its thinly veiled criticism of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, with a top staffer saying Primakov was President Boris Yeltsin's "strategic partner" - but warning Primakov about his good relations with the opposition-run State Duma.

"Premier Yevgeny Primakov is the president's strategic ally in achieving stability ahead of the election to the State Duma," or lower house of parliament, Interfax quoted presidential deputy chief of staff Oleg Sysuyev as saying.

But in a thinly veiled reprimand to Primakov, Sysuyev said Primakov should choose either good relations with the opposition or with the Kremlin. "Primakov could and should review the State Duma's platonic love towards the government," he said.

Yeltsin is trying to reassert himself after months of illness and inactivity during which he handed responsibility for the economy to Primakov. The mercurial president has grown clearly uncomfortable with Primakov's enhanced role.

Sysuyev warned that Primakov's two left-wing deputies, Communist Yury Maslyukov and Gennady Kulik, of the Agrarian party, would have to go if the Duma continued plans to impeach Yeltsin.

Primakov has said he will resign if his two leftist deputies are fired.

In an interview Sunday, Primakov insisted that there was no rift between him and Yeltsin. "There is no reason to believe that the government is working independently from the president or against his orders,'' he said on TV-6.

Primakov said impeachment was "cheap politicking" and that he had no ambition to become president.

Primakov, a former spymaster and longtime diplomat, was appointed premier as a compromise candidate to appease Yeltsin's Communist foes after the president dissolved the government in the wake of Russia's financial collapse last August.