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BOOK ON YELTSIN MAY TEST LIMITS OF PRESS FREEDOM

A Soviet newspaper began publishing the autobiography of Boris Yeltsin, "Against the Grain," Wednesday in what promises to be a literary sensation and the first major test of the new law on press freedom.

The autobiography has been published in a very limited edition of 300,000 copies in Sverdlovsk and is selling like wildfire in Moscow, but the serialization in the daily newspaper Gudok will give it even broader circulation.Already published in the West with unflattering portraits of Mikhail Gorbachev as loving his comforts, the serialiation in Gudok, the newspaper of the railway workers, will be the first test of the new press law passed Tuesday.

That new law removes all bars on censorship, sure to give editors fits as they battle reporters tired of communist watchdogs over them. And the Yeltsin book has plenty of sting.

It says that Gorbachev, with at least two dachas, has been unsuccessful with his economic reforms because he does not want to touch the heart of the mechanism that doles out privileges to the rulers.

A major culprit, the book says, is Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, who it says likes the fine things and does not understand that the people do not like her.

The excerpt published Wednesday deals with Yeltsin in the midst of his comeback after being fired as Moscow Party boss in late 1987 and booted out of the ruling Politburo in early 1988 for speaking up to Gorbachev before the entire Communist Party leadership.

As the excerpt opens, Yeltsin is awaiting the results of the balloting for the Supreme Soviet in which he is seeking to represent Moscow's territorial district No. 1 as an at-large delegate.

Last month, he was elected by the Russian Parliament as Russia's president.

Gudok ended the excerpt with the words, "to be continued," which is sure to to be noted by the Russian-reading public that dotes on the written word.

A Soviet journalist said, "You will never understand."