Yeltsin's Moscow Magic

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MOSCOW: Boris Yeltsin’s political theater can’t be beaten for special effects -- smoke, mirrors and sudden explosions that keep the audience guessing. Yesterday Yeltsin shocked the world by sacking his entire government; today he appeared to suggest that this didn’t mean they couldn’t be in his new government. “In all probability a good part of the cabinet will be exactly the same,” says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. “Which seems to undermine Yeltsin’s claim that he fired the last cabinet because it was ineffective. He was more likely trying to sound a warning to those in the cabinet who were making decisions as if Yeltsin were no longer around.”

Yeltsin followed yesterday’s cracking of the whip by putting in a solid three hours of work today at the Kremlin -- a long day by his recent standards, notes Quinn-Judge. But it’s far from clear that the president has the stamina to maintain such an exacting schedule.