Yeltsin: Out With the New, In With the Old

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MOSCOW: Boris Yeltsin's latest cabinet reshuffle has left his supporters worried about his sanity while his country braces for yet another 180-degree turn in economic policy. Five months ago Yeltsin fired Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for fomenting a financial crisis; on Sunday he reappointed Chernomyrdin to resolve that crisis. "To put it generously, this is rather illogical on Yeltsin's part," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "It has raised serious doubts over the president's logical processes, even among his staunch backers."

Although Yeltsin told the country Chernomyrdin's appointment was supposed to "maintain stability," its effect may be the opposite: The prime minister wants to reverse last week's ruble devaluation package and is expected to drop Anatoly Chubais from his cabinet -- one of the few Russian politicians to enjoy any confidence among Western bankers. President Clinton, when he arrives at the Kremlin next week, may feel as if he's walked into the Mad Hatter's tea party. "Yeltsin is no longer connected in any sense to the solution to Russia's crisis," says Quinn-Judge. "He's very much part of the problem." And that leaves Clinton with yet another painful dilemma.