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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Now That's Entertainment!

Like it or not, the Congress has suddenly become so entertaining it has put all other events of last week in shadow. Here's a brief summary of how things went last week:

Monday and Tuesday -- President Yeltsin offers the Congress four key ministers, including Andrei Kozyrev, whom they will undoubtedly eat alive; in return he wants them to vote for Yegor Gaidar as prime minister.

Wednesday -- In a secret ballot, the deputies let Gaidar go down the drain; Gaidar smiles and says he will continue working as usual; Boris is nowhere in sight.

Thursday--The president addresses the nation, calling the Congress a "creeping coup", and asks for a national referendum to stop the conservative legislators. After the speech he leaves the Congress, followed by approximately 150 democratic deputies, and proceeds to the Moskvich automobile plant to promote the referendum idea.

Slightly shell-shocked and deprived of its progressive wing, the Congress starts a verbal war against Yeltsin and the government. Vice President Alexander Rutskoi makes a passionate antireformist statement, cheered by a long ovation. Impeachment is in the air. The last word, however, belongs to Valery Zorkin, the chairman of Constitutional Court, who suggests direct talks between Ruslan Khasbulatov and Yeltsin, with himself as a legal consultant. The Congress obeys; acting unconstitutionally seems uncool.

Friday -- The Congress runs amok, adopting funny changes in the constitution which deprive the president and government of any power, and the nation of the right to hold a referendum. Yeltsin does not bother to appear at the session. The two powers in the country seem to split up completely. Wow.

Saturday -- The long-awaited agreement between the parliament and the government is announced. The Congress takes back all its radical decisions, while Yeltsin agrees not to call for the referendum. In short, everything returns to the status quo.

Baburin & Co. are furious; Yeltsin smiles happily. The Democratic Party's Nikolai Travkin, who likes to represent the voice of common sense, says that the center has won.

I enjoyed the whole affair for several reasons. First, I'm glad that the president has shown some character again. His indecisive behavior of the past several months did him no good. Part of Yeltsin's strength came from his flamboyant "populist" image -- an image that had started to fade, but has been given a welcome boost now.

With ho evident success of the economic reforms, and an apparent deterioration in living standards, far too much now depends on Yeltsin's personal charisma and popularity.

Secondly, the crisis has proved that this country has really learned some lessons of democracy. I mean, neither of the two leaders could freely dictate his will. Suddenly there was the Constitution, and the Court, and voting; all of which limited the previously unlimited powers.

Alla Pugacheva's annual Christmas party is Moscow's pop event of the year. Staged with maximum pomposity at the Olympic Stadium, it features most of Russia's pop stars. This year's party has a special twist: Pugacheva has invited both her current boyfriend, Sergei Chelobanov (who looks like Suzanne Vega and sounds like Brian Ferry on valium) and an ex-toyboy, Vladimir Kuzmin (who looks like Peter Frampton, remember him? ), to participate.

Unlike the Congress, the conflict here was resolved smoothly, show-biz style, with the two guys playing knights to the Queen and looking totally pitiful.

The only act with any kind of modern feel was the female rapper Lika. The sign of the times, however, was there -- in the form of two huge Coca-Cola cans at each side of the stage.

The house was full, with tickets costing up to 500 rubles, and the crowd seemed to be moderately pleased. The show is on until Dec. 20, so anyone who is keen to listen to Russian restaurant music without eating is welcome.

My last impression is watching the Miss World pageant in Sun City. The whole thing looked exactly like some Soviet-era holiday extravaganza at the Kremlin Palace -- ethnic dance ensembles, children's choirs and endless crooners, little changed from the early 1950s.

Anyway, our girl, Julia Kurochkina is now No. 1, with a crown, a scepter and $63, 000 cash. So Ronald Reagan was probably right, saying that women are the best thing this country has.