Yeltsin refuses to throw Chubais to the wolves

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The Independent Online
Boris Yeltsin sought to glare down his opponents yesterday by insisting on keeping his top economic policy-maker, Anatoly Chubais, despite calls for his resignation over a fees-for-favours scandal. Speaking before television cameras at a Kremlin meeting with the beleaguered minister, Mr Yeltsin said his mind was made up: "I won't give up Chubais".

Looking chastened, Mr Chubais, 42, found himself being chastised for making "moral-ethical" mistakes, rather than breaking the law, but was praised for working 20-hour days.

None of this is likely to appease Mr Yeltsin's critics, who have been baying for Mr Chubais' blood ever since it emerged that he was one of a team of writers who each received a $90,000 (pounds 55,000) advance for an economics book. As the money came from a publishing company linked to a bank which has benefited from privatisation, overseen by Mr Chubais and his aides, this was seen as evidence of corruption.

Three of the authors, all members of Mr Chubais's entourage, have been fired from their government jobs but Mr Yeltsin (who is now talking about publishing a third book of his own) has concluded - rather contradictorily - that Mr Chubais himself acted improperly but not unlawfully. He stripped him only of his job as finance minister but decided he was indispensable in his most important role, that of First Deputy Prime Minister.