Moscow - Boris Yeltsin said over the weekend that he had offered the market reformer Grigory Yavlinsky the chance to become first deputy prime minister in a future Russian government if he abandoned his own presidential ambitions and helped the Kremlin leader beat off a challenge from the Communist contender in next month's election, writes Helen Womack.
But Mr Yavlinsky was playing hard to get. Mr Yavlinsky, 44, who met the President on Thursday, denied he had demanded any specific post. Rather, he told Ekho Moskvy radio, he had pointed out to Mr Yeltsin policy changes he regarded as essential for the national good. He saw ending the war in Chechnya as the priority. The liberal economist also urged tax cuts and the break-up of monopolies. He called for the sacking of ministers associated with current economic policy and the attempt to bring Chechnya to heel, including the Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and the Defence Minister, Pavel Grachev.
The bargaining between Mr Yeltsin and other politicians is likely to continue, probably until the first round of the election on the 16 June. If no candidate wins 50 per cent of the vote, a second round will be held, at which point Mr Yavlinsky and the others may throw their weight behind Mr Yeltsin to save Russia from a return to Communism.
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