Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Returns to Election Debate

President Boris Yeltsin returned to Moscow fresh from a successful visit to Japan on Wednesday night, plunging back into the whirl of politics at home amid continuing suggestions that he might delay parliamentary elections.

After his carefully choreographed trip to Tokyo had ended smoothly, Yeltsin told reporters that his election schedule remained unchanged, with parliamentary polls to be held in December and presidential elections on June 12.

But in Moscow, a presidential press secretary said that the timing of the elections was still being discussed.

At a press conference while still in Japan, Yeltsin was told by a reporter that one of his advisers had suggested he was ready to agree to simultaneous parliamentary elections to be held in the spring.

"I categorically reject that", Yeltsin was shown saying on Russian television Wednesday. "I won't keep such advisers. If you tell me his name, I will fire him".

During Yeltsin's two-day trip to Tokyo, Russia's political parties and electoral officials were scrambling to get ready for a tight electoral schedule that many, even on Yeltsin's own staff, believe to be unreasonable.

Georgy Satarov, a member of Yeltsin's Presidential Council, went far as to tell Itar-Tass on Tuesday that the president was considering simultaneous elections in March.

Yeltsin looked irritated as he told reporters: "Elections to the federal assembly will be held on Dec. 12. Presidential elections will be held on June 12".

It was the first time since he dissolved Russia's legislature and imposed presidential rule on Sept. 21 that Yeltsin had confirmed the June date for presidential polls.

But he later qualified this by saying that the new parliament would have the right to make the final decision on the presidential ballot, Reuters reported.

"That is its prerogative, the prerogative of parliament", Yeltsin said.

Yeltsin's press secretary, Anatoly Krasikov, was indulgent to Satarov, saying Wednesday that the adviser's remarks would be looked at after the president had returned from Japan.

Krasikov also hinted the door might still be open to a change in the timing of the elections.

"These questions are still being discussed - whether elections should be in June, March or December. I see no reason for tragedies here", he said, declaring it was not a divisive issue.

However it is this single issue that has drawn the most sustained criticism of Yeltsin from across the political spectrum. Satarov, contacted by telephone, said he stood by his Tuesday interview.

"I hold the same position as I did yesterday", he said, adding that he had nothing to fear from threats of dismissal.

Satarov said the December elections would be logistically difficult, while the six-month gap before the presidential polls would lead to a constitutional tangle.

"The new elected parliament will be the parliament of a new, independent, modern state called the Russian Federation, but the president will still be the elected president of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic", said Satarov.

Yeltsin's was elected in 1990 to the presidency of what was then a republic of the Soviet Union.

Asked how close his contacts were with Yeltsin, Satarov said he had last seen the president on Sept. 28.

Viktor Sheinis, another reformer, argued Wednesday that simultaneous elections would be "extremely undesirable".

"We have no new law about the presidential elections, and this would create more confrontation in society because people would vote according to the principle - is this candidate for or against Yeltsin? " he said in an interview.

As the debate continued, a full list of the 225 constituencies that will comprise half of the new parliament was published in newspapers Wednesday.

Moscow will have 15 of these voting districts, each with over 400, 000 voters. Each will elect one member of parliament.