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Ousted Moscow Official Gets New High Post

November 18, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Boris N. Yeltsin, the man thrown out as head of Moscow's Communist Party last week and labeled an ambitious renegade, was named to a top government post today and given the rank of minister.

It was a stunning turnaround in the political fortunes of the 56-year-old Yeltsin, who last week was denounced at length by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev as a rash colleague who bucked party rules and discipline.

Exactly one week after his ouster from one of the top party posts in the country, Yeltsin was named first deputy chairman of the Soviet State Committee for Construction, Tass press agency said.

Move to Quell Fears

The new appointment indicates Yeltsin has been restored to a position of respect and responsibility, perhaps as an effort by Gorbachev to quell fears that his firing was a blow to the Soviet leader's economic and social reform program.

According to the Kremlin pecking order, Yeltsin's new job is of lesser standing and influence than his former post. But he will have the opportunity to play an important role in implementing Gorbachev's economic reforms.

The appointment also bolsters official contentions that Yeltsin is not suffering serious health problems. A Soviet spokesman said earlier this week that Yeltsin had been hospitalized with a heart problem.

Raids on Shops

Yeltsin lost his Moscow post after contending that Gorbachev's program to overhaul Soviet society and make the economy more efficient had not been successful in the capital.

The towering official became a visible and vocal advocate of broader democracy and more responsive government. His unannounced raids on public transit and food shops to inspect the quality of goods and services made him a popular figure, and his removal surprised and upset some citizens.

'Politically Immature'

In last Friday's editions of Pravda, Gorbachev said Yeltsin's address at an Oct. 21 meeting of the party Central Committee was "politically immature, extremely confusing and contradictory."

At the meeting, Yeltsin criticized Gorbachev's leadership style and the pace of reforms, then offered his resignation.

On Nov. 11, the Moscow Party organization removed Yeltsin from his post as head of the city party, and the Pravda report two days later appeared to indicate Yeltsin was headed for political oblivion.

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