Hardliners warned as Yeltsin flexes muscles

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin said in Moscow yesterday that he represented the only legitimate authority in Russia.

'Today only the president has legitimacy. The other branches of power have only the legitimacy of the former Soviet Union,' he told a news conference with the visiting Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney.

His top aide, meanwhile, stepped up pressure on hardliners by hinting that Mr Yeltsin might sack them, capitalising on his referendum victory last month.

Sergei Filatov, Mr Yeltsin's chief of staff, said: 'With this referendum result, the entire presidential team should now consist of reform supporters.'

He named Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi, now in open opposition, and Yuri Skokov, the secretary of Mr Yeltsin's powerful 'inner cabinet' or Security Council, as dissenters from the presidential line.

Mr Yeltsin, who won 58.7 per cent support for his rule and 53 per cent backing for his austere free-market policies in the April poll, has claimed a fresh mandate from the people to act against his opponents in a long and wearying power struggle.

He said he had no plans to dissolve the Congress of People's Deputies, where conservatives have done their utmost to thwart his radical policies in the past six months, and narrowly failed to impeach him in March.

But the legislature, which was elected in 1990 in the old Soviet Union, would disappear after a new constitution was passed, Mr Yeltsin said.