MOSCOW -- One of the country's most influential republican leaders launched a furious attack on Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin yesterday, saying the "great-power, chauvinist" attitude of Mr. Yeltsin's government was driving other republics out of the union.
Speaking with reporters, Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the republic of Kazakhstan, said Mr. Yeltsin and his supporters were trying to monopolize power in the new Soviet Union. Mr. Nazarbayev also said Mr. Yeltsin and his followers had discussed the subversion of republics that refused to comply with their wishes.
If the Russian government questions existing borders with its neighbors, as it threatened to yesterday, Mr. Nazarbayev said, war could result.
Russia's heavy-handed attitude already has prompted some republics to start forming their own armies, he said.
Mr. Nazarbayev said Mr. Yeltsin's grab for power started early. Immediately after the collapse of the coup last week, Mr. Nazarbayev said, the Russian president demanded that his nominees receive key government posts in the new Soviet Cabinet.
Mr. Yeltsin told a meeting of the Federation Council, which encompasses all republican leaders, that he wanted to reserve for his candidates the premiership, the chairmanship of the KGB and the Defense, Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries, Mr. Nazarbayev said.
"What sort of democracy is this?" he asked.
Russia's insistence on placing its own candidates in key positions is a "major miscalculation" that will cost the country dearly, he said.
Russia's attitude has been "very badly received in all the republics," Mr. Nazarbayev said, noting that the Ukraine had quickly convened its parliament and declared independence, as had Byelorussia.
"I'm sure the same process will take place in Central Asia," he said. "Everybody is afraid."