Russia's Presidential Problems

Russia's Presidential Problem was painfully evident today at the Kremlin news conference, reports CBS News Moscow Correspondent Richard Threlkeld.

Mr. Yeltsin's responses were slow, halting and often punctuated by slurred words.

When he was asked a question about how he planned to form a new government, he seemed to lose his train of thought. For what seemed an eternity, television viewers at home and around the world saw not the President of Russia, but a pathetic, befuddled old man.

Finally, Yeltsin mumbled a barely coherent sentence and said, "that's all."

However, Yeltsin's opponents were not at a loss for words when they met Mr. Clinton later on. Afterwards, Gennaday Zyuganov -- the Communist leader -- said, "the Kremlin is half-dead. The government is paralyzed."

Popular former General Alexander Lebed said "it's worse now than the revolution of 1917. The authorities can't handle things, the people cannot tolerate it. The existence of a huge stock of unguarded nuclear weapons just adds tension."

On Friday, the Duma will vote again on whether to confirm Viktor Chernomyrdin, Mr. Yeltsin's choice for Prime Minister, and they will almost certainly reject him. This will bring the parliament one step closer to dissolution and heighten the danger that Russia's fragile political fabric will completely unravel.

While Bill Clinton was here, the warring politicians tried to be on their best behavior -- the way one might tidy up the house and tell the kids to stop fighting when the neighbors come to call. Thursday, Mr. Clinton leaves and hostilities will resume.

Reported by Richard Threlkeld
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