Yeltsin's wife takes on new role as TV boss

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The Independent Online
Naina Yeltsin has always stuck cosily to the stereotypical role that best suits her husband's political interests. Most Russians know her only as a twinkle-eyed grandmother who bakes cakes and cuddles babies. But now she has a new job.

Mrs Yeltsin (right) is to co-chair the board of one of the Russian president's pet projects - a government television channel which will promote Russian culture in the face of an onslaught of low-brow television from the West.

Great tranches of air time that was formerly strictly controlled have fallen to soap operas, dubbed Hollywood movies, and talk shows. Now, however, under a presidential decree, Culture TV is to replace St Petersburg's national network, Channel 5.

It has not escaped the notice of Mr Yeltsin's opponents that this means that the federal government has increased its control over Moscow-based national channels from two to three.

Mr Yeltsin has said he won't be running again. But his media firepower will still be very useful, when it comes to anointing the Kremlin's next occupant.