Time for Boris the bold

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 1997, 12:00am

Boris Yeltsin is making every effort to show that he is back in charge of Russia. He has pledged to shake up his cabinet, hammer on with economic reforms and clamp down on corruption.

Such undertakings have been heard before. But what is striking this time is the way in which the Russian President has been open about the scale of problems facing his nation - official corruption, the way workers are left unpaid, the crumbling military and the deep difficulties of Moscow's once hopeful relations with the West.

Russia's new political system, he acknowledged in a speech broadcast nationwide, was 'stuck mid-way' and 'the stream is carrying us away from the new shore'.

If Mr Yeltsin is in a sufficiently tough frame of mind - and good enough physical shape - to push through the changes needed to get the country moving on the right track, it will be an evident reason for hope about his floundering attempt to create a viable post-Communist society.

It is easy to write Mr Yeltsin off as a man who makes the right noises when things get tough but who has not got the perseverance to see them through. For the moment, he deserves help, particularly from his US counterpart Bill Clinton when they next meet. But he also needs to be aware that the patience of his own people, and of the rest of the world, may run out if he does not take radical steps to put right the ills he has so honestly identified.