Yeltsin recruits former opponent

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The Independent Online
Boris Yeltsin yesterday appointed as a minister a leading Communist who stood against him in his re-election to the Kremlin, and who is a close colleague of his former adversary, Gennady Zyuganov.

With anger simmering in Russia's provinces over unpaid wages and broken election pledges, the decision to give a job to Aman Tuleyev appears to be an effort to demonstrate that his government is broad-based, and is open to people from across the political spectrum.

Russian news agencies said that Mr Tuleyev, who is from the Siberian coal-mining region of Kemerovo, would be the minister responsible for relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose coalition that was created after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

Speculation that the President - who made a fleeting appearance on Russian television yesterday - would include some Communists in his government has been circulating for several months, so the appointment of Mr Tuleyev was not entirely unexpected. Before his re- election, Mr Yeltsin said that he was willing to engage in a "dialogue with all those for whom the fate of Russia is a top priority", including "honest Communists".

Mr Tuleyev, 52, has twice run for the Russian presidency, although he dropped out of this year's race at the 11th hour in order to leave the way clear for Mr Zyuganov, who eventually lost by a 13-point margin.

Some observers have suggested that Mr Yeltsin's offer may be part of a plan to head off industrial unrest in the mines and elsewhere, which has been caused by the government's strategy of withholding pay for months. Mr Yeltsin also named his first female cabinet minister, Tatyana Dmitrieva. She will be in charge of health.