ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COMMENTARY- Yeltsin s New Shock Therapy- Russia Back to Political Uncertainty

Russia Back to Political Uncertainty R G Gidadhubli BORIS YELTSIN's sudden and unexpected act of dismissal of Russia's prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his entire cabinet on March 23, 1998 has created a political storm. Officially, reasons offered for the dismissal were wages and pensiohs were not paid punctually, economic reforms were not implemented satisfactorily, Chernomyrdin's cabinet lacked dynamism, initiative and fresh approaches and that many Russians 'did not feel changes for the better in their lives'. There may not be many who would buy these arguments. The reason being that while it is known that Russia has not solved .all economic problems, it was officially claimed that economic performance in 1997 was not too bad with modest increase in gross domestic product, positive growth rates in many branches of industry, control over inflation, stability in exchange rate of rouble against dollar, marginal decline in unemployment rate and above all 32 regions of Russia experienced a real boom (Izvestiya, December 30, 1997). It was reported that for the first time such performance was achieved after 1989. In view of this, the timing and the manner of dismissal of Chernomyrdin government and nomination of Sergei Kiriyenko, 35 year-old deputy minister in the dismissed government, seemed to indicate many deeper issues involved. An immediate political speculation was that with the next presidential election due in less than two years, i e, in early 2000, Yeltsin possibly wanted to show that he was a strong president and was in command of the situation. As one argument goes, being Russia's prime minister for the last five years, Chernomyrdin accumulated power, As reported (Izvestiya, January 17, 1998), there was reorganisation of administrative powers in which Chernomyrdin had strengthened his own hands and made the position of Anatoly Chubais, the first deputy prime minister, weak by taking away certain important functions of his administration which Chubais resented. In this reorganisation process, Chernomyrdin also assumed some powers of the president, Hence it could be a matter of speculation as to whether this act cost him his job. But the fact remains, whether this act might not have been done without the approval of Yeltsin and at any rate Yeltsin had enough authority to intervene in the implementation of this policy. In view of this, the dismissal of Chernomyrdin was considered to be Yeltsin's act to eliminate him from the presidential contest, But in the same breath, Yeltsin praised Chernomyrdin as 'thorough, reliable, and trustworthy' thus giving mixed signals about his real intentions and about his support to Chernomyrdin's political future.

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