Moscow in Post-Yeltsin Mode

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MOSCOW: Quick, find Boris an heir. With Russia's President Yeltsin reduced to conducting the affairs of state from his hospital bed on Monday, Kremlin insiders were planning his succession. The problem is that constitutionally, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov can rule for only 100 days, after which new presidential elections would have to be held. Which is why the Kremlin wants to revive the vice presidency scrapped by Yeltsin, and tap Primakov for the post. "As vice president, Primakov could take over as interim president until the 2000 elections," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. And that would certainly give his candidacy a leg up.

Any constitutional changes may, however, meet with strong resistance. "Some presidential candidates will want early elections if Yeltsin goes because their images won't stand lengthy scrutiny," says Quinn-Judge. And the murder of one would-be presidential candidate last weekend was the surest sign that the post-Yeltsin transition will be anything but seamless.