Yeltsin's Coup Prevention

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MOSCOW: Could there be a coup in Moscow? Boris Yeltsin took the rumor of one seriously enough recently to scramble his top military and security chiefs in a demonstration of strength. "We have sufficient forces to nip in the bud any plans to seize power," he told the commanders -- a surprising and rare admission that such a risk might exist. He praised the military and interior forces for their close coordination, and pledged that they -- unlike other workers -- would be paid on time. (Sources tell TIME that Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev had prepared to resign over the government's failure to pay his troops.)

During the meeting, Yeltsin handed out promotions to three top aides: his interior minister, the commander of the Federal Protection Service and the head of the Presidential Security Service. But behind the coup rumors, there is a growing sense among the political elite that the system of government, like the economy, is grinding to a halt and that Yeltsin has simply lost touch. But certainly he has retained his sense of self-preservation. Although many onetime supporters would like to see Yeltsin resign, his meeting with the military signals that he is not going to leave without a fight.