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Bowing to legislators' demands a day beforea crucial confidence votein the Duma,Russian President Boris Yeltsinfired three security ministers for bungling their duties in the southern Russia hostage crisis. Yeltsin, whom TIME's Bruce Nelan calls "a very good politician in terms of what looks good to the public," tried what has been widely considered as a political ploy to appease the Duma. "Everyone is assuming this is a very cynical political move, especially since Yeltsin didn't fire (Defense Minister Pavel) Grachev, one of his oldest supporters, as the Duma wished. But Yeltsin also had good reason to be unhappy with the way the security ministers mishandled the hostage situation." Will the firings help Yeltsin in tomorrow's vote? "The members of the Duma often do things in a fit of emotion, so it's hard to predict just what they'll do," says Nelan. "But it looks like some sort of deal has been struck between the executive and the legislative branches."