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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK

Russian media unimpressed with Primakov

Wednesday's sacking of Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov did not come as much of a surprise to the country's media.

Russia crisis
Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of Russia's largest-circulation and most outspoken dailies, headlined its report: "After nine months the president has given birth to a new premier. The birth pains were short."

"Primakov's dismissal was expected.

There was speculation over when Boris Yeltsin would sack him - now, or a bit later.

It is believed Primakov was given two main tasks: to get parliament to abandon impeachment and to reach a deal with the IMF... Neither task, alas, has been completed," the paper said.

Another article in the same paper commented that the president had been briefed in advance by his advisers on the consequences of such an action.

"Yeltsin was warned not to cut the branch he is sitting on", the author wrote.

'Primakov no heavyweight'

Another prominent paper, Izvestiya , took a similar line, saying Primakov's sacking promised "no upheavals".

"Trite comparisons with last year's reshuffle when Chernomyrdin was abruptly fired will most probably appear in large numbers.

But overly glib analogies are often misleading".

Chernomyrdin, the paper said, was a political heavyweight who created a political and economic system.

"Primakov created no functioning system, and all his great achievements were based on the positive results of the August nightmare: the fourfold devaluation of the national currency and the more than twofold decline in the population's real income - a colossal stimulus to any economy."

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a paper financed by tycoon Boris Berezovsky, noted that Yeltsin had opted for an "exacerbation of the political situation" as a means to distract public attention from the impeachment process currently under way in parliament.

"In moments of danger, be it threats from the State Duma (parliament) or individual politicians or other events and circumstances that make the president extremely nervous, Yeltsin makes radical decisions with enviable regularity," the paper said.

Little interest in live broadcast

Turning to the impeachment process itself, Russian Public Television's parliamentary correspondent said of one 90-minute speech: "The layman's overall impression was that it was very long and somewhat dull.

But the deputies listened to it with interest".

This view was echoed by the reporter for another TV channel, NTV, who noted there was no live TV relay as yet.

"But I have to say that if this relay does come off, it is unlikely to capture the interest of the viewers... As a matter of fact, all the speeches have been pretty academic, full of dense legal jargon... If a live relay is arranged, viewer interest will probably die." Source: BBC Monitoring, Caversham, 13th May 1999

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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