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Mother knows best

KURSK, Russia (AP) - Far from the stand-off at the Russian parliament, Alexander Rutskoi's mother screeches when asked if her son has become president.

'Neeeyet] He's the vice- president]' Zina Rutskoi asserts. 'He can be president only if Boris Yeltsin signs a decree letting him. How can he command anything?'

The motherly dose of reality may not help her son, or the legislators who named him acting president. But Mrs Rutskoi, who is 65 and lives in a tiny flat 330 miles south of Moscow, makes up for her bluntness with bitter criticism of a 'shameless' Mr Yeltsin. 'I would say that he is being unjust and dishonest with the people,' she snaps. 'We won't get anywhere with him.'

What is a mother to do? Her son rarely calls - she has not spoken to him since August. 'Where can he call from? Everything has been cut off. Poor thing, he's going through so much. Of course I'm worried. I'm his mother.'