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Boris’ Revenge

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MIKHAIL GORBACHEV WAS NEVER AS POPULAR AT home as abroad. But last week the former Soviet President’s status in Russia reached an all-time low. The once omnipotent Gorbachev has been waging — and lately losing — a war of recrimination with his former rival, Russian President Boris Yeltsin. First Yeltsin’s government barred Gorbachev from leaving the country and fined him because he refused to testify at a trial investigating the ostracized Communist Party. Then Yeltsin ordered the police to seize the Moscow headquarters of the Gorbachev Foundation, the former leader’s political think tank. “This is all happening in a country that its leaders call democratic,” Gorbachev complained as police guarded the building’s entrance.

The eviction came one day after Gorbachev lambasted Yeltsin and his government in a newspaper interview, charging that the Russian leader had failed and should hand over power to a governing state council. The reprisal seemed petty, and it diverted public attention away from the real business of the week: Yeltsin’s major address to parliament in which he defended his economic-reform program, criticized three Ministers of his own government for poor performance, and offered to cooperate with some of his political opponents.

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