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By I. M. & Volstad, Ronald Baxter

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More importantly, his victory was a fait accompli. Another common misperception is that Yeltsin kept and 45 Alex Konanykhin consolidated power. The underreported truth is that, though he kept the title of President, Yeltsin was forced to give up much of his authority to the KGB to secure their support. Yeltsin had won, but at the price of losing most of his muscle. His “victory” left him largely a ceremonial head of state, a paper tiger. Russia was now neither a democracy nor an empire. It was a Mafiocracy.

I’m sorry,” I said, smelling a rat. “I’ve reconsidered. ” “I’m afraid we’ll have to insist,” said the translator. ” Scuffling with two armed Ministry of Security officers didn’t seem like a terribly bright idea. Neither did running away and getting shot in the back. So I followed the officers inside, hoping against hope that my suspicions were unfounded. We trudged up a rickety flight of stairs and arrived on the first landing. There was a heavy aroma of fried onions in the air. The three of us walked over to a door, which opened without anyone knocking.

I asked. ” Vadim directed me to a second, barely furnished room, much larger than the first. A tall, muscular guy with a crewcut followed us in. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that the two Hungarian officers were leaving. I had to admit, they had played their parts quite professionally. Vadim motioned for me to sit on a large leather sofa. As I settled down, he took a seat on the matching chair across from me. The enforcer who had accompanied us sat at the end of a large desk, which was bare except for one menacing object: an electric iron, the infamous torture tool of Russian racketeers.

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