Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin Berates Military Leaders While Assailing Rights Violations, He Supports Force in Chechnya

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin Berates Military Leaders While Assailing Rights Violations, He Supports Force in Chechnya

Article excerpt

President Boris Yeltsin berated his military leaders on Thursday for big losses and human rights abuses in Chechnya but insisted Russia must use force to defend its unity.

Looking somber but steady, Yeltsin stood throughout his 61-minute speech to a rare joint session of parliament, winning only mild applause when he finished.

It was his bleakest portrait of post-Soviet Russia since he became president in 1991 - bereft of hope and vision at a time when his popularity is at a record low and many believe he should resign.

After his unsteady arrival at a meeting of fellow leaders in Kazakhstan last week, all eyes were on Yeltsin for signs that he might be ill or had been drinking.

But he looked confident as he strode to the microphone to deliver his address. He closely followed his prepared text, rarely looking up at the lawmakers. At one point, he paused briefly, apparently losing his place.

But there was little of the old vigor or great sense of drama. He seemed deeply preoccupied by domestic problems, raising international issues briefly at the end of his speech.

Besides Chechnya, most of the issues he raised were gloomy: the rise of fascism in Russia, renewed inflation, a weakening ruble, a huge budget deficit, rampant crime, corruption and an ineffective judiciary.

At the opening of his speech, Yeltsin asked lawmakers to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the fighting in Chechnya. Members of the State Duma and the Federation Council then stood in the Kremlin's Marble Hall.

Yeltsin admitted "failures, setbacks and mistakes" in Chechnya by the Russian armed forces, which demonstrated the need to accelerate military reform. But he was adamant about the right to use force.

"Such blisters like the Medellin cartel in Colombia, the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia and the criminal dictatorship in Chechnya do not disappear by themselves," he said. "To preserve the sovereignty and integrity, the state can and must use the force of power."

Yeltsin often sounded defensive and offered few clues about how he planned to bring peace to Chechnya or solve the ailments he outlined. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.