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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President To Give Reforms New Push

The administration of President Boris Yeltsin indicated Wednesday that it intends to use the May Day disturbances as the impetus to crack down on the hardline opposition and give new energy to reforms.


A spokesman for Yeltsin, meanwhile, announced that the president's controversial visit to Japan, planned for this month, had been put off again "by mutual agreement".


There was no immediate explanation for the postponement of the visit, which had been timed to precede a summit of leading industrialized nations in July (Page 2).


Although Yeltsin did not comment directly on the measures he would take, Itar-Tass quoted the president as saying that the May Day riots, which erupted when pro-communist demonstrators clashed with police, marked the "death throes" of his hardline opponents.


Presidential aides said that Yeltsin, bolstered by a convincing vote of confidence in the April 25 referendum, would soon issue a series of decrees to seize the political initiative, and that government members reticent to push forward with reform would be purged from the cabinet.


The May Day rioting in central Moscow was the worst violence here since the failed August 1991 coup.


The violence left 570 people injured and on Wednesday claimed a fatality, a member of the OMON special police forces. The officer, Vladimir Tolokneyev, 25, died in hospital four days after his head was crushed by a truck commandeered by communist demonstrators.


Russia's public prosecutor Wednesday denounced three of the men accused of plotting the 1991 coup for participating in the violence and appealed to the Supreme Court to impose restrictions on them.


According to Pravda, the former Communist Party mouthpiece, the three men attended the May Day demonstrations but took no part in organizing them or leading the violence. They are former parliament chairman Anatoly Lukyanov, former Soviet Vice President Gennady Yanayev, and former KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov.


A presidential aide, Sergei Yushenkov, said Wednesday that Yeltsin was awaiting final referendum results before issuing a series of decrees to strengthen reforms. Those results were released later in the day by the Central Electoral Commission, with Yeltsin winning 58. 7 percent support for his rule and 53 percent backing his economic reforms.


One of the expected decrees, Yushenkov said, would "implement many aspects" from Yeltsin's March 20 television address announcing special rule. He declined to provide details, but said that other decrees would concern reshuffling of the cabinet and support for the country's embattled mass media.


First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, who is in charge of personnel in the Yeltsin administration, told reporters meanwhile that he would clear the cabinet of opponents of reform.


"We will purge ourselves of people who try to decide things for the government", he said.


Aides have hinted in recent days that Georgy Khizha, the deputy prime minister for the military-industrial complex and a backer of a measured approach to market reform, is to be relieved soon of his post.


The president is rumored now to be considering returning former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar to his cabinet. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Shokhin said at a news conference Wednesday that Gadiar might be named a minister without portfolio in charge of Russian finance policy, although Shumeiko denied this.


There were indications, meanwhile, that the Moscow mayor's office might impose a blanket ban on demonstrations on Sunday, which is marked here as Victory Day over the Nazis in World War II.