As the Commonwealth of Independent States rises on the ruins of the Soviet Union, who will be its most important figures? Here are some of the VIPs taking charge of the new, post-Soviet world:
BORIS NIKOLAYEVICH YELTSIN
Position: President of Russia
Background: Graduated from Ural Polytechnic Institute in 1955 . . . spent 30 years in hometown of Sverdlovsk, western Siberia, before coming to Moscow in 1985 as chief of Communist Party Central Committee's construction department. That December, he became first secretary of Moscow City Party Committee . . . Gorbachev, who had assigned Yeltsin to the key Moscow post in his campaign for younger, more energetic leaders, dismissed him less than two years later for criticizing slow pace of perestroika reforms . . . In 1989, elected to Congress of People's Deputies in Soviet Union's first multi-candidate parliamentary elections . . . In 1990, elected chairman of Russian parliament, and last June he won first election for Russian presidency . . . Since his key role in thwarting August coup, he has gained power and is now boss of largest and strongest remnant of what was once Gorbachev's Soviet Union.
Quote: "It is difficult for all of us now, and it is not going to get easier in the next few months. The main thing is confidence. And faith. Don't give up, don't sink into pessimism, don't loose hope. New times are on the way."
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday December 28, 1991 Home Edition Part A Page 2 Column 3 National Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Post-Gorbachev names--In a graphic devoted to prominent personalities in the new Commonwealth of Independent States published in Friday's editions, the photos of Yevgeny I. Shaposhnikov and Islam A. Karimov were transposed. Also, the name of Patriarch Alexi II was misspelled.
LEONID MAKAROVICH KRAVCHUK
Position: President of Ukraine
Background: Grew up in rural Ukraine, studied at cooperative technical school before graduating from Kiev University with degree in economics . . . For most of his long career as a party apparatchik , he was involved in ideology, becoming chief of Ukrainian Communist Party Central Committee's propaganda department during 1980s. Republic's parliament elected him chairman in July . . . Opponents such as members of Rukh, Ukrainian independence movement, accuse him of slyness and note his tendency to change public views according to prevailing political winds . . . But in same referendum that brought Ukraine independence, Kravchuk was elected president.
Quote: "We will naturally insist that Ukraine become a member of all European organizations, including financial, and I think that our requests will be met."
NURSULTAN ABISHEVICH NAZARBAYEV
Position: President of Kazakhstan
Background: A wrestler in his youth, Nazarbayev was educated at technical college attached to a metallurgical factory and worked for 10 years at a blast furnace . . . Graduated from Communist Party Central Committee's Higher Party School and had classic party career, becoming first secretary of Kazakhstan's Communist Party in 1989, a post he quit last summer . . . Ran unopposed for president of Kazakhstan in December . . . Leadership approach has been described as "authoritarian for modernization" . . . A long-time supporter of economic reforms and transition to a free market.
Quote: "There remains one path, the path along which the whole world is moving, the path of . . . the market."
GENNADY EDUARDOVICH BURBULIS
Position: First deputy prime minister of Russia, secretary of state
Background: Born in Pervouralsk, where grandfather had immigrated from Lithuania . . . Graduated from Urals State University with degree in philosophy, then taught that subject himself . . . Came to Moscow as people's deputy in 1989 . . . Referred to by some as "Yeltsin's gray cardinal," he managed Russian president's campaign last June and is now his chief adviser . . . Told Yeltsin before August coup that he should "consolidate the moral and political prestige undoubtedly enjoyed by Russia's leadership" and prepare for "the final disintegration of this totalitarian system."
Quote: "President Yeltsin enjoys the most powerful credit of trust from the people. . . . This is a critical juncture for us, but we know where we want to go." ALEXANDER VLADIMIROVICH RUTSKOI
Position: Vice president of Russia, air force major general
Background: As a flyer, shot down and captured by Afghan rebels twice in the 1980s, named a "Hero of the Soviet Union" after his escape . . . Yeltsin picked him as running mate in 1991 Russian presidential elections to gain support of military and party rank and file . . . Has recently sparred with Yeltsin over speed of economic reforms--he advocates more gradual transition to free market--and has attacked "anarchy" that he feels present Russian government has wreaked upon nation.
Quote: "The White House (Yeltsin's headquarters) has become a place of intrigues. And no one knows anymore where we're going and what our goal is."
ANATOLY ALEXANDROVICH SOBCHAK
Position: Mayor of St. Petersburg