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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

June Is Right For Election Of President

When the cat's away the mice will play but nobody really expected Boris Yeltsin's visit to Japan to turn into a free-for-all among those advisers who stayed behind on the very serious issue of elections.


The muddle at the top must be as grave still today as it was in the heat of the Oct. 3-4 crisis to have so many Yeltsin aides saying so many contradictory things about the coming polls. At issue: Will Russians elect a parliament on Dec. 12 and a president on June 12, as Yeltsin has said, or won't they?


oAccording to Georgy Satarov of the Presidential Council, Yeltsin is considering changing his plans and holding presidential and parliamentary polls in March.


oAccording to First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, the votes should be held simultaneously - but in December.


oAccording to Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, holding simultaneous elections would make economic sense - whenever they are held - because organizing national polls costs a lot of money.


oAccording to Viktor Sheinis, head of a working group on drafting new election laws, holding simultaneous votes would be impossible because there is no legal framework for presidential elections and a parliament must be elected first to enact such laws.


oAccording to Pyotr Filippov, the head of Yeltsin's center for economic analysis, the new parliament should be elected first and it should then call off any plans for presidential elections prior to the completion of Yeltsin's term in office in 1996.


Yeltsin heard about the first of these comments, Satarov's, before leaving Japan. Not true, retorted the angry president, threatening to sack the aide. He confirmed that the dates of Dec. 12 and June 12 would stand.


But then his press secretary, Anatoly Krasikov, added to the confusion, saying that the timing of the elections was still under discussion.


There is no need for this chaos. Yeltsin's original plan should go ahead as he said. Instead of creating bedlam in people's minds, his aides should be organizing the polls with order and dignity.


Immediately after the April referendum, it might have made sense to hold simultaneous presidential and parliamentary votes. Yeltsin had just received a solid popular endorsement and looked to be firmly in control.


Now, with Russia recovering from its worst spasm since the Bolshevik Revolution, a total change of guard at the top would be unwise. What this country needs first and foremost is stability. The election of a new post-Soviet parliament will be the first step on this road.


Six months later, when that body is fully operational, is the right time for Russia to elect its president.