Yeltsin’s dismissals destabilize Russia

Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin fired his fourth prime minister in 17 months on Monday. Yeltsin’s policy of cavalierly terminating the country’s highest-ranking officials not only exacerbates the nation’s current instability, but delays any real progress until his second and final term ends next July.
After appointing Sergei Stepashin as prime minister in May, yesterday Yeltsin fired and replaced him with Vladimir Putin, the chief of Russia’s domestic intelligence service and former KGB officer. The likely reason for Stepashin’s dismissal is that Yeltsin was not confident in his ability to replace him as president. Yeltsin claims to have chosen Putin, a political unknown, because of his potential to “consolidate” society.
Yeltsin should not have fired another prime minister merely because he did not want to endorse him in the 2000 elections. The country’s economy has been extremely unstable for almost two years, with massive inflation drastically increasing prices for common goods and services. Corruption is rampant in the federal government and at many of the 89 regional government centers, where the Russian mafia wields more power than elected officials. The instability in Yeltsin’s own cabinet has only made matters worse. With the exception of Victor Chernomyrdin, none of Putin’s predecessors’ terms have lasted longer than eight months.
Yeltsin should address Russia’s current problems, rather than focusing on the future to the detriment of the present.