Yeltsin was shown his place

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a press-conference in the Kremlin yesterday for Russian and foreign journalists. The newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote that the main subject of the meeting with the press was Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin, which was very surprising for Vladimir Putin himself. Well, we guess that it is absolutely the opposite thing, in terms of that surprise.

Let’s remember Yeltsin’s recent visit to Belarus that was timed to the anniversary of the beginning of the World War II. Yeltsin was rather vivacious in front of journalists, he was very fine, he was talking, he was in a very good form.

The most conspicuous thing about Yeltsin was the fact that he was saying: “Everything is under control. I have different meetings every day, I talk to ministers, to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, to President Vladimir Putin.” Yeltsin is the head of the “family” and now he is getting worried, he is trying to control everything as much as he can. Yeltsin showed it to everyone: the “guarantor of stability” (as he described himself) was live and kicking. The people either did not believe it, or they did not pay much attention to that relevant fact, or they had a chuckle on it. The time of the trust inYeltsin & Co. is over, no one takes him serious, as well as his opinions, evaluations, threats. Now they trust in another guy.

Putin did not hurry to leave yesterday. The press-conference was meant to last for 1.5 hours, but it took it more than two hours. Seven hundred journalists, 36 questions. The conference itself was rather surprising - there were no preparations to it, it happened all of a sudden. But Putin knew, what he was going to be asked about, or what they were supposed to ask him about, or what he had to do to be asked, to be more precise. The questions about Yeltsin were following one after another, there were three of them in total, I think. Putin’s answers were tough, even harsh, maybe. Here are the examples.

TBC television company:

Vladimir Vladimirovich, In 1999 you were appointed prime-minister and officially called Boris Yeltsin’s successor. The previous authorities secured mechanism of democratic handing over of the power, though, your political course seems often to deny the previous political course. In your view, is there any succession between Boris Yeltsin’s course and that one of you, besides some words about democratic course of reforms? Thank you.

- I do not think that today’s course of the Russian President and the whole Russian leadership denies all what was done before. Vice versa, we develop the country on the same base, which was created by the previous political leadership with the ex-Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the head. It is clear, that our life does not stand still as well as that we are different persons. We could have different views on different situations of Russia today and tomorrow.. And it is clear, that if Boris Yeltsin were the president today, we would not return such symbols of our State system like the anthem of the Soviet Union, its melody.. I know that Boris Yeltsin was against it, he said it to me. He has his own opinion. I am at the head of the country today, though, I am politically responsible for its today’s state and for its future. Although, we respect the first president, listen to his opinion, take it into account while making a decision, though we act independently.

NTV television network:

Speaking about ex-president Boris Yeltsin and the relations between Russia and Belarus. What is your attitude to those critical remarks that Boris Yeltsin make against the Russian position concerning the treaty between Russia and Belarus, and what do you think is the reason why the political activity of the ex-president increased lately? Thank you.

- A free human being has an opportunity to move freely, to meet, to express opinions, I think there is nothing bad about it. I have already said that we treat him with respect. But I have my own opinion on many issues, and I will realize those things that I consider to be adequate to Russia’s interests today and in the future. It seems to me that it would be a mistake to speculate on that, it would be wrong to stir up some scandals. I do not see anything special about it. But Boris Yeltsin is a bright person, and an experienced politician. He has an opinion and he expresses it. Thank you, we will keep this in mind. There were some moments in Putin’s statements, which made everyone think (see the bold lines): “We listen to his opinion, though we act independently.” Isn’t this irony? Then there is this phrase “it would be wrong to stir up some scandals.” Does it mean that there is something to stir up?

Then Putin talked a little about the problems of the local self-government and about the situation in the Nenetsky autonomous region of Russia, then he said goodbye: “Thank you very much, it is enough.” The main thing has been said. The situation is under control. It seems that we’ve heard that before. Yes, of course, the grand television and on-line broadcast of Putin’s first press-conference on December 24 last year, and the following events. PRAVDA.Ru wrote about it in its article Putin against the “family.” Who rules in Russia? The author optimistically put a full stop after “family” (with a little stipulation, though: the technologies of manipulation of people and of the public opinion on the part of the powers-that-be reached rather a sophisticated manner). It is very likely that the whole thing (both of the past and the present) is only a wishful thinking, or maybe it is simply a hope that dies the last.

Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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