Russia's Fuzziest Home Videos

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MOSCOW: Perceptions are as important as reality in Russia's volatile politics. Which is probably why video images of President Boris Yeltsin riding a snowmobile and chatting about fishing were released yesterday by the Kremlin.

Yeltsin hasn't been seen in public since December, when it was announced that he'd caught a cold. Although aides promise he'll return to work next week, a number of state visits have been canceled and his state-of-the-nation address was postponed by a month. "That means he's not able to stand and read from a TelePrompTer for 45 minutes," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. "But he's been known to bounce back with alacrity."

Either way, expect more home videos from the Kremlin: "He was shown on TV today meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov," says Meier, "but they were filmed from a great distance." The wide-angle, of course, would avoid the perception created by yesterday's video among some Muscovites that Yeltsin was unable to recognize his wife and daughter.