Accessibility links

Breaking News

Western Press Review: New Term, Old Problems for Yeltsin

Prague, August 9 (RFE/RL) -- Western press commentators are using Russian President Boris Yeltsin's inauguration today as a springboard for ruminations on the problems of health, war, politics, and the economy which beset the Russian leader

FINANCIAL TIMES: Yeltsins inauguration is a source of justified relief

The British newspaper says today in an editorial: "Yeltsin's inauguration as Russian president later today will be a historic moment for the country, and source of justified relief worldwide. For the first time since becoming a sovereign nation, Russians will get to see the winner of a democratic election sworn in as their leader. What is more -- as far as many in the West are concerned -- the right man won. . . . The elections were fought on the big picture, whether Russia could proceed in its transition to a market economy. The challenge of the next few years will be finding the details to match."

NEW YORK TIMES: The world is relieved to see Yeltsin standing without assistance

Today's paper says in an editorial: "With his health in doubt, the war in Chechnya flaring and the Russian economy at a critical juncture, Boris Yeltsin begins his second term as president (today) with diminished expectations. . . . But Yeltsin and his countrymen can still move ahead with economic and political reform if the second Yeltsin administration is more disciplined and consistent than the first. The first step should be candor about Yeltsin's health. All the dodging and dissembling about his condition have only fanned fears that he is suffering much more than a bad case of fatigue. . . . In planning (today's) ceremony, the government looked for symbols of majesty and power it could borrow from the coronations of the czars. At this point, the world would be relieved just to see Yeltsin standing without assistance."

WASHINGTON POST: Chechnya overshadows the celebration of Russias infant democracy

Lee Hockstader writes today in an analysis: "It is not only questions about the president's health that may overshadow an event the Kremlin had hoped would be a celebration of Russia's infant democracy. In Chechnya, the breakaway region 1,000 miles south of Moscow, one of the fiercest battles since the outset of the 20-month-old war is raging between thousands of government troops and separatist fighters in the heart of Grozny, the regional capital. "

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Yeltsin is weighted down with the familiar baggage of his stormy leadership

James P. Gallagher comments today: "Once again, Boris Nikolayevitch Yeltsin is passing a major milestone in his career weighted down with all the familiar baggage of his stormy leadership -- mystery, uncertainty and contradiction. He will begin his second term as Russian president on Friday with a brief and surprisingly spartan inauguration ceremony inside the red-brick Kremlin walls. Yeltsin will take the oath of office amid ambiguity and confusion about his health, the true scope of the country's economic woes and what policies his new administration will pursue at home and abroad over the next five years."

LONDON GUARDIAN: The greatest stain on Yeltsins presidency--Chechnya--has not been atoned for

In an analysis today, James Meek writes from Moscow: "As the guests file into the bleak, gargantuan Soviet-era Kremlin Palace for the short inauguration ceremony, they will be conscious that the greatest stain on Mr. Yeltsin's first presidency, the decision to intervene in Chechnya and the subsequent death of thousands of people, has not been atoned for."

NEW YORK TIMES: Chechen attack underscores the collapse of Yeltsins peace initiatives

Alessandra Stanley writes today in an analysis: "As Russian troops continued a bitter three-day battle to regain control of Grozny, a Chechen rebel leader stated in an article to be published in Izvestia that the rebel forces had accomplished their mission and would soon withdraw. The ferocious assault that left several hundred dead was a brazen show of force designed to cast a pall over Moscow on the eve of. . . Yeltsin's inauguration. Rebels who invaded the capital of the breakaway republic of Chechnya on Tuesday said they did so to underscore the collapse of peace initiatives promised by Yeltsin during his re-election campaign."

POLITIKEN: The international community must help the Kremlin realize the war in Chechnya is lost

The Danish newspaper says today in an editorial: "The power politics that resumed in Russia after the presidential elections have overturned with the humiliating experience in Grozny's bombed-out center. . . . During the election campaign, Yeltsin promised to stop the war in Chechnya. Instead, the faceless, immoral and demoralizing tactics to bomb Chechnya to peace continues. . . . Ignoring the criticism against the military operation in Chechnya has never done Russia, its democracy or President Yeltsin a favor. The international community must therefore help the Kremlin realize that the war in Chechnya has been lost."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Yeltsins opposition is preparing for the next fight

Today's paper says in an editorial: "Yeltsin hasn't even entered upon office officially yet, and the nationalist-communist opposition already is preparing for the next fight. The exhaustion of the chief of the Kremlin, who wants to take a longer holiday right after the inauguration, gives them hope. If he drops out physically before his term of office is over, they want to be prepared. . . . The opposition certainly has undergone no change in principle nor has it adapted a new profile. . . . Regional elections in the autumn will show whether the new old federation between right and left remains viable."

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Yeltsins second term doesnt promise an energetic new beginning

The paper says today in an editorial: "It is not only Russia's condition that is worrisome, but also the condition of the president. . . . Yeltsin not only has health problems but also has political ones. Chechnya is a drastic current example. . . . Since the Russian constitution is completely designed for the President, it creates an even bigger anxiety, if one considers Yeltsin's health. . . . The beginning of his second term of office doesn't promise an energetic new beginning."

NEWSDAY: Opposition counts on Yeltsins failing health to give them another shot at the Kremlin

In the U.S. newspaper yesterday, Sophia Kishkovsky wrote in a news analysis: "President Boris N. Yeltsin's inauguration to a second term is supposed to be a grand and joyous affair, celebrating the defeat of communism and triumph of democracy, but also harking back to imperial times, with touches from the coronations of the czars. The ceremony will close with the finale from Mikhail Glinka's opera 'Ivan Susanin, or A Life for the Czar.' . . .Although the Communists lost to Yeltsin in the presidential race, they and other leftist and nationalist parties made a strong showing in December's Duma elections. Now they're set to strike back in a series of regional elections scheduled through fall and early winter. And, although they won't say it openly, analysts say they're also counting on Yeltsin's failing health to ensure that it won't be long before they have another shot at the Kremlin."