Install

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

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Speaker Denounces Yeltsin on Session Eve

Parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov on Friday attacked the reformist wing of President Boris Yeltsin's government on the eve of an emergency session of parliament, blaming it for Russia's political and economic woes.


Khasbulatov, in a nationally televised interview, reserved his most scathing criticism for this week's unpopular ruble withdrawal and Yeltsin's firing of his security minister.


The speaker blamed Russia's power struggle on "radicals" in Yeltsin's government he said were bent on setting up a dictatorship, harshly criticizing cabinet members associated with the Democratic Russia coalition.


"There is nothing democratic about them", Khasbulatov said on Russian television. The Central Bank's currency reform, he said, was "the result of policy of the radicals in the government".


Khasbulatov singled out Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov, who is also minister of finance, comparing his cost-cutting attempts to lower inflation with this week's confiscatory currency reform.


Although Fyodorov vehemently denounced the currency reform, Khasbulatov called for a criminal investigation against him.


Parliament's leadership, the presidium, has summoned deputies back from vacation to debate a Yeltsin decree extending a state of emergency in the northern Caucasus region of North Ossetia.


But Commonwealth Television reported that lawmakers could call for a vote of no-confidence in Yeltsin's government - or at least in the pro-market wing led by Fyodorov.


Khasbulatov was backed by an article entitled "Twilight of the Democrats", in the parliament newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.


"Do the democrats realize that, in razing the old political system to the ground, they have buried their own power under its rubble? ", the paper wrote Friday.


"The moment of truth has come for all, including millions of Russians, who no longer give a kopek for the authorities who have so suddenly attacked their wallets with the deceitfulness of Afghan mujahedin", said the paper, comparing the currency reform to the guerrilla war being waged on the Commonwealth's border with Tajikistan.


Under the legislature's rules, parliament can discuss any issue once the session opens. The conservative majority, having last week rammed through a welter of measures aimed at stamping their control over the economy, are not likely to let pass the chance to address the Central Bank's sudden decision to withdraw pre-1993 ruble notes.


Parliament's leaders on Thursday ordered the Central Bank, which is subordinate to the legislature, to lift the restrictions on exchanging rubles, saying that they violated citizen's constitutional rights. Yeltsin has softened the measure, but stopped short of annulling it.


Having been disturbed from their summer vacations, lawmakers may also take advantage of the fiasco surrounding the ruble reform to further attack the reform wing of Yeltsin's government.


Khasbulatov also criticized reformers in Yeltsin's cabinet for organizing a boycott of the legislature's two-day All-Russian Economic Assembly, which ended Wednesday. He said that Democratic Russia had wrecked the efforts of the rest of the country to find a solution to Russia's economic problems.


The president has also been attacked for firing Security Minister Viktor Barannikov. A top presidential aide, Sergei Yushenkov, on Friday said that Barannikov had been removed in part because he had become closer to the conservative wing of parliament.


Yeltsin on Friday moved to recoup at least some lost support, ordering Russia's top law-enforcement officials - Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, Valentin Stepankov, the state prosecutor, and Nikolai Golushko, who replaced Barannikov as security minister - to step up their fight against organized crime.


"People cannot get any relief from criminals at work and at home", said the decree, according to Interfax. While Yeltsin was on vacation last week, seven people were killed in two mafia-related shootings.


Yeltsin also attempted to reduce some of the damage done by parliament, which last week opened the way for the state prosecutor's office to begin criminal investigations against two of the president's top aides on charges of corruption.


Yeltsin ordered law enforcement officials to investigate the information provided to the prosecutor's office by rebel Vice President Alexander Rutskoi which led to the prosecution of Mikhail Poltoranin, the head of the Federal Information Center, and First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko.


Interfax also reported that Yeltsin will head a meeting next Thursday of his Security Council on corruption among high-ranking officials.


The president's camp sees last weeks attacks by the legislature on Poltoranin and Shumeiko and the whole currency reform as a Concentrated plot to dilute Yeltsin's efforts to push through a new constitution that would end his struggle with the legislature.


But Yeltsin's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, said that the drive to get a new constitution passed had not failed - things had merely quieted down "during an intense vacation period", Interfax reported.


Filatov said that roughly half of Russia's 89 provinces would review Yeltsin's draft charter in August, the other half in September. He added that Yeltsin was planning to meet with regional leaders next week to get them to work out their differences over the draft.