DURST: Boris Yeltsin

According to who you believe, Boris Yeltsin either squelched his competition or had a brain fart the size of Siberia this week when he fired his entire Cabinet. Supposedly he only wanted to get rid of Viktor Chernomyrdin, his Deputy Prime Minister, who had gotten a bit uppity after filling in for Boris during part fourteen of his winter tour of Soviet rehab centers. The lesson we learn is never become more competent than your boss. Especially when he doesn't have a boss you can suck up to. The Petersburg Principle. So Yeltsin canned everybody while letting most of his ministers know they're coming back anyway. Kind of like when you kick everybody out of a party but not so secretly let most of them back in through the side door just so long as that weird guy with the "I'm With Stupid" sweatshirt with the arrow pointing up, splits. Chernomyrdin's replacement pick is Sergie Kirienko who beat out a bus boy at the Moscow Inter-Continental Hotel for the gig. International response has been quite tame since Boris has a tendency to make abrupt policy shifts with the stability of a piece of straw in a tornado. Pro Yeltsin Russian leaders explain the chief is mercurial, which is a lot like calling carrying nitroglycerin; tense. And when you think about it, Boris' system is a lot more civilized than the traditional Russian procedure. They don't call it Russian roulette for nothing you know.

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