Yeltsin gives disgraced spy chief key post

BORIS YELTSIN yesterday moved to bring order to the chaos caused by his government cull, by saying he will not run again for office and naming a once-disgraced ex-security service chief as Interior Minister.

Despite hints from his aides that he is keeping his options open about a third term, Mr Yeltsin - whose presidency has been overshadowed by ill- health - indicated he will stand down at the next elections in 2000. His government, fired en masse last week, remains in pieces as his inexperienced new Prime Minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, 35, prepares for a confirmation battle with the lower house of parliament.

All the main parliamentary factions have expressed misgivings about his nomination, and the Communists - who hold nearly a third of the seats - have demanded its withdrawal. A vote is due on Friday.

But, as Russia's political circles reel in the aftermath of the government's sacking, one part of the jigsaw slotted into place. The President named as acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, a former head of the counter- intelligence services notorious for his bungled role in the Chechen war.

The 46-year-old lieutenant- general - appointed Justice Minister last year after the previous incumbent was photographed frolicking in a Moscow steam baths with two women - has remained close to Mr Yeltsin, despite a patchy career. In September 1994 he led an operation to arm pro-Moscow Chechen opposition forces with tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, and helicopters.

Although he later criticised Russia's decision to send troops into the republic, starting a 21-month war, he is still blamed by rights groups for his role. Among other things, his agency, then called the FSK, supplied the Kremlin with misleading intelligence about the pro-independence forces. In June 1995 he was sacked after Chechen fighters took 1,500 people hostage in south Russia.

His appointment indicates his links to the intelligence community are valued by Mr Yeltsin, who, mindful no doubt, of the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, has gone to lengths to maintain tight control over the security services.

The minister, whose appointment must be approved by parliament, becomes Russia's chief policeman, a role previously filled by the hawkish Anatoly Kulikov, sacked last week. Mr Stepashin will hope to see Mr Yeltsin through to the end of his presidency in 2000 - if, that is, the President sticks by his words.

Although Mr Yeltsin indicated he would not be running again, he has a record of contradictory behaviour. If no other candidate stands a chance of victory, and his health holds up, he will be under pressure from the ruling elite to change his mind. For now, Mr Yeltsin has tentatively aligned himself with Viktor Chernomyrdin, the ex-prime minister, without giving him unqualified backing.

The sacked prime minister would head the government's election campaign, he said yesterday, before meeting the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. "We need a strong leader and, bearing in mind that I, so to speak, am not taking part in the elections, we need reinforcements. That is why we rearranged the pieces and put everything in place."

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little