Chernomyrdin says he has no designs on the Kremlin

PHIL REEVES

Moscow

Russia's Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, yesterday delivered a fresh surprise to Moscow's army of Kremlin-watchers by announcing he had no plans to run for president in the new year's elections.

If he stands by his word, there will be disappointment in the West, where he has long been seen as one of the more acceptable successors to the ailing and sometimes erratic Boris Yeltsin. "I have not planned, and am not planning, to present my own candidacy for the election of presidency next year," Mr Chernomyrdin told Itar-Tass news agency.

He went out of his way to scotch reports that his relations with Mr Yeltsin had soured and that he may be destined for the chop. Nothing had come between himself and the President, he told Tass - and nothing would.

Mr Chernomyrdin, 57, has been seen as the front-runner for the Kremlin's top job for several years, even though his current chances of success are questionable, given the level of disaffection with the government among the electorate.

He heads the pro-Yeltsin centre-right electoral bloc Our Home is Russia, which has yet to attract much popular support; even Mr Yeltsin - who instigated the creation of the bloc - had conceded that it could fare badly in the elections for the State Duma (lower house) this December.

Although he is often widely portrayed as a colourless technocrat - he is a former head of the national gas monopoly - Mr Chernomyrdin's stock improved dramatically in June when he leapt into the international limelight by conducting televised telephone negotiations with Chechen rebels holding hundreds of Russians hostage in Budennovsk.

Mr Yeltsin was at an economic summit in Canada. The Prime Minister went on to survive a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government.

Yesterday Mr Chernomyrdin's announcement was greeted with scepticism by some Russian political analysts who noted he had not expressly ruled out changing his mind. He has a reputation for being intensely ambitious; if Mr Yeltsin decides to drop out of the presidential race, the political landscape may seem far more inviting to the Prime Minister and his supporters.

n On the eve of a key hearing in the State Duma, the government's draft budget for next year met heavy criticism in both houses of parliament yesterday. The Federation Council, the upper chamber, approved a resolution calling for revision to the plan to boost social spending and subsidies for regions and industry.

"The draft 1996 budget continues the current policy of the Russian government, which has resulted in a drop in income for Russians in 1995 and increased social tension in several sectors and regions," the resolution read.The plan calls for cutting spending and boosting revenues in an effort to squeeze the deficit and bring down inflation.

The government is forecasting an average monthly inflation rate of 1.2 per cent next year, down from 6 to 7 per cent forecast for 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?