Ever been to Russia? I have. Beautiful country, good food, attractive women (and men, if you're into that sort of thing) and a hospitality that makes visitors feel really special. But the best thing about the Russians is their sense of humour, which is good considering their present situation.
Communism never really did anybody any favours, but since Capitalism hit, things seem to have got worse (yes, that is actually possible). Most people are very poor, a few are filthy rich and the middle class has sort of vanished. Which leaves only the politicians. Ah! How could I put this? Look, it was never going to be a good idea to elect a vegetable president, was it? In fact, most Russians are now convinced that Yeltsin has been dead for years and that the Kremlin is using his stunt double for public appearances. Perhaps, but at least Yeltsin's re-election prevented the return to power of the Communists: try and think of it as a protest vote. But his political steps have been a little strange lately:
- first, he appointed a complete unknown (Kyrienko) Prime Minister, against the Douma's will (the Douma -that's the parliament-, by the way, is mainly Communist).
- six months later, just as the poor bloke was starting to do a good job, Yeltsin fired him for... no reason at all. Which is a bit of a shame really when you consider that poor old Kyrienko had managed to negotiate an IMF loan which has now been cancelled. Back to square one.
- at that point, Yeltsin tried to replace his former Premier with the usually popular Viktor Chernomuyrdin, but the Douma refused to recognise him Prime Minister.
Of course, by this time, Yeltsin had no credibility whatsoever left, so he couldn't force the Douma to do what he wanted. He finally appointed Primakov Prime Minister, and the Douma happily accepted him: Russia is saved!
Or is it?
Okay, there is still just one problem; nothing much really, but it should be pointed out. Primakov is ex-KGB, which makes him a Communist. He used to be a very senior official in the KGB, back in the good old days. But that's not all. He also has very strong and friendly links with a good part of the Arab world.
The party has only just begun