Week 55

After watching Yeltsin gulp down a few toasts, Putin left and went straight back to his flat. The phone was ringing as he walked in.

“The Duma has approved your appointment as First Prime Minster,” said a voice he didn’t recognize.

He didn’t bother to ask who was calling; he was sure it was the faux security man. “Fine. Thank you,” he said and prepared to hang up.

“President Yeltsin requests that you return at once,” the voice said quickly.

“I’m busy,” Putin replied. There was a pause. “President Yeltsin REQUESTS that you return AT ONCE,” the voice repeated slowly.

Putin hung up and stood, thinking. Finally he sighed, picked up his jacket, and headed back out the door. “More toasts,” he grumbled.

When he arrived back at Yeltsin’s office, he was glad to see that the President wasn’t appreciably worse off than when he’d left him.

The smell, however, was much worse. And the mysterious “security man” was still lurking just behind the President.

“Ah, Vladimir Vladimirovich, here you are again,” Yeltsin said rather solemnly. “Mister President,” Putin replied.

Yeltsin turned in his chair and looked back over his shoulder. The man gave a curt nod, and Yeltsin turned back with a sigh.

“So, the time has come,” he said glumly. “I, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, hereby resign the office of President of the Russian Federation.”

It took all of Putin’s self control to keep the surprise from showing on his face. He said nothing. There was a long, awkward pause.

“So, all right then,” Yeltsin said as he attempted to stand, “so I think I will go home now.” He picked up his dog bowl and sighed again.

“Sir,” Putin said, “I’m not sure you realize the significance of this action. Perhaps you should reconsider …”

“No no no no no,” Yeltsin grumbled, “This is right. First I name you Prime Minister, then I resign, then you are President. That’s right.”

“Indeed,” said the faux security man, taking Yeltsin by the elbow. The former President straightened himself and headed for the door.

“We will make the necessary announcements now,” the man murmured as they passed Putin. The new President did not reply.

“What will you do with your campaign funds, now that there will be no campaign?” asked the man, with a ghastly grin. Putin said nothing.

The door closed behind Yeltsin and his escort, and Putin realized it was true: He was now President of the Russian Federation!

The first order of business would be to inform the Putin Pals: This sudden turn of events would accelerate their plan a good deal.

And his second task would be to take his entire campaign war chest and spend it all on the most awesome inaugural celebration ever seen!