Yeltsin speech lands a punch
Wednesday 31 March 1999
His long-awaited speech to parliament, though delivered confidently enough, was far from vintage Yeltsin, being bereft of emotion, let alone passion. It was only 18 minutes long, as he chose to deliver more detailed views on the economy in the form of a written report.
It came at a difficult time, even though Russia was patting itself on the back yesterday after winning an agreement for an IMF loan, the amount to be announced, which looks suspiciously like a Western pay-off to ease Moscow's injured feelings over the Balkans.
In the twilight months of his reign, Mr Yeltsin is over-burdened by problems: a shattered economy, attempts by his opponents to curb his powers and even impeach him, chronic ill-health and a corruption investigation that strikes to the heart of the Kremlin.
Bespectacled these days, he looks weary and remote - more the semi-retired chairman of the board, a vague figurehead who knows nothing of day-to- day details, than an active chief executive. But he got through the performance, his first major speech for months, without serious hiccups, albeit also without much applause. In fact, Mr Yeltsin - or at least his speechwriters - even proved there is fight in him yet.
He took several swipes at his premier, Yevgeny Primakov, who was in Belgrade trying to broker peace. He praised the Prime Minister for piloting the country through the perilous months after last August's economic crash, but he also delivered a warning against "new centralisation" - a return, in other words, to Soviet-style interventionism at the expense of market economics and individual freedoms.
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...