President Yeltsin on Monday named a Cossack, Nikolai Yegorov, to Mr Shakhrai's job of supervising ethnic relations in the vast Russian Federation. Mr Yegorov comes from Krasnodar, one of the few areas of the northern Caucasus which has remained peaceful.
Mr Yeltsin may want to use his experience on Chechnya, a Muslim region which has declared independence from Russia. The Chechens are a headache to the Russians, as they run a powerful mafia. Mr Shakhrai suggested there may be other reasons for his replacement. 'I would like to hope that the appointment of a new minister is not connected with my order for a financial inspection at the former State Committee for the Affairs of the North,' he said.
Mr Shakhrai said he did not intend to join the opposition, led by rebels such as the former vice-president, Alexander Rutskoi, who want Mr Yeltsin out of the Kremlin before a 1996 presidential poll.Reuse content