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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Turns to Intellectuals

President Boris Yeltsin courted leading intellectuals inside the Kremlin on Friday, urging them to unite behind his policies and rejecting charges that he had caved in to Russian extremists.

"We have slowed down a bit, but we have preserved the course of reforms," Yeltsin told several dozen writers, critics and artists in the Grand Kremlin Palace. "Now it is time to start an offensive to overcome the economic crisis."

Last month, the intellectuals signed an open collective letter to Yeltsin, accusing him of allowing former Communist officials to gain too much influence in the government. They also blamed him for the failure to take effective steps against extreme nationalist and anti-Semitic forces.

Yeltsin insisted his government remains staunchly pro-reform, but agreed that authorities should take stronger action against extremists.

"I fully agree with you that we can no longer tolerate the rising wave of neo-fascists and extreme nationalist publications," Yeltsin said. "It is a shame for our country, which paid such a high price fighting fascism."

He urged intellectuals to help unify reformers. "I ask you to help unite the pro-democratic part of our society with your authority, intellect and talent."