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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Congress: A Preview

Not one of the seven Congresses of People's Deputies has taken place without a lot of advance publicity. About a month before the beginning of the next Congress people begin to talk.


Terrible predictions are made: All of the ministers will be fired, or the Supreme Soviet will be dissolved. There are as many opinions as there are parties, factions and movements.


Instead of combining their forces to get our lumbering reforms moving, these groups spend time dividing up ministerial portfolios and publishing secret lists of the new government.


What good can we expect from a Congress when everyone is fighting with each other before it even begins?


A year ago, when he received additional powers, President Boris Yeltsin promised us economic stabilization. But another winter is almost here, and still there is no stabilization in sight. Prices are rising, our ruble is not convertible, there is still no labor market. Many other markets have opened, but the one we need most has not.


The president, under the pretext that we must combine our forces and get the reforms moving, asked the Supreme Soviet to postpone the Congress until the spring. But the deputies refused. The president got upset and wagged his finger at them. But we know our president pretty well, and in extreme situations he can be harsh and unforgiving. So we are waiting for the congress as if we were sitting on a volcano. What is going to happen?


Lately the voice of Civic Union is being heard above all others in the political arena. This is an opposition force, uniting in its ranks open foes of the cabinet, if not open foes of the president.


Civic Union is supported by directors of large enterprises and collective farm chairmen -- by people who until just recently stood at the helm of our ship of state and managed to run it aground. Today the same people assert that without their help, we will never get the ship out of the shoals. They promise to save it, but only on the condition that they continue to occupy the first-class cabins.


Civic Union has been candid: It is fighting for power, its future ministers want to get government positions as quickly as possible. Arkady Volsky, leader of Civic Union, is not opposed to becoming prime minister. At least, rumors to that effect ran through Kremlin circles.


But the president, although he seeks support from various parties and political movements, does not intend to be led on their leash. Moreover, the president does not intend to sacrifice anyone at all, much less acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, for the sake of Civic Union. To whom should the president turn for support? Which parties and movements are the most influential?


Democratic Russia brought Yeltsin to power. But he can no longer count on fragments of a once powerful movement.


A center coalition must be formed at the Congress. All sensible deputies will join. But there is still the Rossiya faction, whose position is far from common sense. It is adamant that the president and government must go, and be replaced by a new team, with Sergei "Baburin, Ilya Konstantinov or Vladimir Isakov at its head.


In general, every party and faction, no matter how small, has its own scenario for the Congress.


Democratic Russia warns that the question of land could become fatal for the deputies. and it is threatening the deputies: If you oppose the president we will gather another million signatures for a referendum on dissolving the Supreme Soviet and the Congress itself.


Civic Union is keeping its scenarios secret for now. The Rossiya faction is ready to take on everybody at once, and you can be sure that there will be surprises from that quarter as well.


A miracle could happen, and the Congress could go smoothly, work constructively and end in a week. I think that such an outcome would not suit the Rossiya faction, and we can expect various provocations. Everything is in the hands of the deputies. All we can do is wait for the show. We can hope that political leaders will have enough sense to back away from confrontation. If they do not, this Congress might be their last.


Tatyana Tsyba is a journalist with the weekly news magazine Stolitsa.