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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fight with right heats up

Striking back at a hardline challenge to President Boris Yeltsin, progressive legislators on Monday accused demonstrators who have besieged the Ostankino television center for more than a week of attempting "a violent overthrow of constitutional government".


The deputies, members of Democratic Russia, the Radical Democrats, Reform and other liberal parties, also sharply criticized fellow parliamentarians and Russian legal authorities for failing to act to halt the protest, which began outside the government-run television center on June 12.


The Ostankino demonstrators are demanding the right to voice their views on "Yeltsin's television". They are mainly supporters of rightist parties including the Workers of Russia and the Workers of Moscow.


Early Monday, there were clashes as riot police attempted to evict the protestors. Fourteen demonstrators were arrested, Itar-Tass said.


With Yeltsin in the United States for his summit with President George Bush, the demonstrators at Ostankino and other hardline groups, including the newly-formed Russian National Assembly, called repeatedly for his impeachment and the installation of their own governments.


The Russian National Assembly, also known as Sobor, is setting up branches in the Russian provinces to encourage resistance to Yeltsin's reforms, according to a report in Izvestia. Supporters of Sobor, the party headed by a retired KGB general, Alexander Sterligov, say they expect to take over the Russian government by the end of the year.


"We will form a government that will reflect the interests of the people", Sterligov proclaimed at a recent press conference.


Reaction was not long in coming.


"Russia has not been under such a threat of commune-fascism since August 1991", Yevgeny Kiselev, anchorman of Itogi, the weekly news show, said on television Sunday. In a stinging commentary, he compared Russia's political climate with the early years of the Weimar Republic.


Kiselev's comparison echoed remarks by Sergei Shakhrai, the former presidential aide, who warned in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda that Russia is threatened by a dictatorship of "national-patriotic fascist organizations and groups".


In a press conference on Friday, the liberal deputies raised the prospect of civil war if rightist threats to the government went unchecked.


"The political purpose of all these actions is obvious: the destabilization


of power in conditions of a sharp crisis threatens a repeat of the national catastrophe of 1917", they said in a statement. "This time the country is stuffed with atomic warheads and nuclear energy stations".


On Monday, the legislators who met at the White House zeroed in on the continuing protests at Ostankino.


Although the hardliners have been granted the legal right to demonstrate, the deputies say that the protest has turned into a political struggle for power. They called on the Supreme Soviet and legal authorities to block their attempts. Parliament has remained silent on the matter.


Gennady Ponomaryov, the Moscow public prosecutor, said at the hearing that demonstration organizers would face charges in court for a June 12 assault on two police officers. The prosecutor's office is also considering a second charge against the organizers for violating Article 74 of the Russian Criminal Code, which bans incitement of ethnic strife.


"Several of their slogans could be viewed as kindling ethnic dissension", he said. Many reports on the Ostankino protest have described slogans as openly antisemitic.


Victor Anpilov, the Workers of Russia party leader and an active figure in the Ostankino demonstrations, is not among those charged.