Yeltsin's Nemesis Scores a Coup

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MOSCOW: Boris Yeltsin has been warned -- watch out for Boris Berezovsky. As Yeltsin’s protégé Sergei Kiriyenko sets about building a new government, the tycoon Berezovsky yesterday dealt Yeltsin a stunning political blow by being appointed secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States. “From a standing start, Berezovsky in 10 days managed to persuade 11 presidents of former Soviet Republics to present Yeltsin with an unpalatable fait accompli,” says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. “Berezovsky ran rings around Yeltsin.”

Berezovsky’s money was one of the most significant factors in Yeltsin’s reelection in 1996, but Yeltsin fired the oil and media baron from a government position late last year. “Now Berezovsky’s won a powerful government post at a time when he’s waging a political guerrilla war against Yeltsin,” says Quinn-Judge. “He may be a lone operator, but he’s an extremely effective one.” And that’s bad news for the Russian president.