Yeltsin will throw Kozyrev to nationalist wolves

PHIL REEVES

Moscow

Boris Yeltsin sought to shore up his struggling presidency yesterday by revealing that he plans to sack Andrei Kozyrev, his Foreign Minister and one of his most loyal allies, as soon as he can find a replacement.

It was the latest of several attacks on his increasingly powerless minister in an attempt to appease Russia's nationalists and other hardliners who accuse Mr Kozyrev of selling out to the West, particularly over Bosnia, and have long demanded his resignation.

With the Communists threatening to sweep parliamentary elections in December, and a presidential race in June, Mr Yeltsin's actions were clearly intended to try to improve his own dismally low popularity-ratings by decrying a figure who is widely scorned at home.

As political savagings go, it was nasty, making it hard to believe that Mr Kozyrev can last much longer. According to Mr Yeltsin, the Foreign Minister could not get on with other ministers, and had failed to co-ordinate his policy with the government.

The only reason he had not replaced him was because he had not found someone else to do the job. "Let him continue working," the President said. "Let us not make him knuckle under. But my decision will stay." Today the two men are due to visit Paris, where they will meet President Jacques Chirac.

If and when it happens, Mr Kozyrev's departure will cause some concern in the West, although little surprise. His demise has been predicted in Moscow almost weekly ever since he got the job in 1990. But it is questionable how much difference it will make to Russian foreign policy, if any.

The liberally inclined Mr Kozyrev has been derided as the West's "Mr Yes" - as opposed to the Soviet foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, the "Mr No" of the Cold War. But recently he has sounded less pro-Western and increasingly nationalist. The major points of disagreement with the West - Nato enlargement, the bombing of the Serbs, and the inclusion of Russian troops in a peace-keeping force in Bosnia - seem likely to drag on, not least because Mr Yeltsin has been dictating foreign policy of late. Moreover, the West has been unwilling to compromise.

Mr Yeltsin seemed to signal that in broad terms Russia would maintain its relationship with the West. He also made a frank admission that the war in Chechnya had been a mistake, a point that Western governments have been making since the conflict began 10 months ago. "So many people have been killed there," he said. "This is the biggest disappointment of my entire presidency."

He talked hopefully about reaching an agreement with President Bill Clinton during his forthcoming trip to the United States over the possible deployment of nuclear weapons near the Russian border if Nato expands into Eastern Europe. He was determined to keep the US-Russian relationship on track; he and President Clinton "get on too well" to let it deteriorate, he said.

As he prepared for his news conference yesterday, Mr Yeltsin ignored the world's television cameras and shocked two women secretaries by pinching their backs. Appearing unsteady on his feet, he was filmed as he said "hello" and casually tweaked them between the shoulder blades. The first woman jumped in surprise at the gesture, seen as another public indiscretion by the Russian leader, while the second turned and stared at Mr Yeltsin, then made an inaudible comment.

The scent of ministerial blood yesterday set off speculation over who might succeed Mr Kozyrev. Among the names mooted was Vladimir Lukin, head of the State Duma's (lower house) foreign affairs committee, who has criticised Mr Kozyrev for incompetence. A more probable candidate is Anatoly Adamishin, Russia's ambassador to London.

Mr Adamishin was summoned recently to discuss the Balkan conflict with Mr Yeltsin, giving rise to suggestions that he might be destined for higher office (and supplying more evidence that Mr Kozyrev was doomed). Earlier this month he wrote an article in Komsomolskaya Pravda saying that co-operation with the West should not mean Russia's national interests are overlooked - a veiled attack on Mr Kozyrev.

Another possibility is Yuli Vorontov, the Russian ambassador to the US. Like Mr Adamishin, he is a career diplomat in his sixties with a long record in the Soviet Foreign Ministry.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album