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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rutskoi Issues Appeal For Reconciliation

Former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi appealed for national reconciliation Wednesday in his first full statement since being released from prison under a parliament amnesty last weekend.


"Without national appeasement the country can not overcome the economic, political and social chaos," Rutskoi said in a statement that was addressed to the State Duma and faxed to Reuters.


As Rutskoi launched back into politics in Moscow, his partner in leading last October's violent uprising, the speaker of the former Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov, returned to a hero's welcome in his native Chechnya.


Both men were released from Lefortovo prison under a parliament amnesty last Saturday, together with five other leaders of the White House uprising.


Rutskoi reiterated his support for the October rebellion, in which 147 people died, in Wednesday's statement. But he indicated that he did not intend to renew his clash with President Boris Yeltsin.


"Last autumn all of those who were in the White House and on the barricades fulfilled their civic and patriotic duty till the end," Rutskoi said. "Many paid the highest prize, their lives," he added. "They departed from life as victors."


Rutskoi went on to call for compromise, however, rather than vowing to avenge the deaths of his supporters.


"I abide by the laws of my country," Rutskoi said, adding that for the sake of civil peace "each political and public figure or citizen should drop his personal ambitions and claims to power at any price" and "find in himself the strength to acknowledge personal mistakes."


Anatoly Krasikov, a Kremlin spokesman, said he had not read Rutskoi's statement but gave it cautious praise.


"I am not inclined to trust him, but I think he is aware of the political changes that have occurred since he was put in prison," he said.


Since October, Krasikov said, Russians have voted in a new parliament and constitution, while Rutskoi has lost much of the popularity he once enjoyed when he called for the violent overthrow of the government.


Rutskoi's spokesman, Andrei Fyodorov, nevertheless said earlier this week that Rutskoi might announce his candidacy for presidential elections in 1996.


In calling for an end to the no-holds-barred power struggle that marred 1993, Rutskoi joined Yeltsin, the chairman of the State Duma Ivan Rybkin and several other prominent politicians.


Georgy Satarov, a presidential aide responsible for relations with the parliament, told Itar-Tass he was preparing a joint statement with parliament leaders that would hold both the legislature and the executive responsible for keeping the peace.


According to the Itar-Tass report, Satarov said the opposition leaders released under last week's amnesty might also be asked to sign the agreement.


Satarov's spokesman, Sergei Stupar, said in an interview that it was not yet clear whether the statement would be a mere declaration of intent or would contain more definite commitments. But he added that it would refer mainly to the responsibility of parliament for ordering the release of the opposition leaders.


Yeltsin met Tuesday with Ivan Rybkin, chairman of the State Duma, to discuss the joint statement. In what appears to be an effort to draw Rybkin into his camp, Yeltsin appointed him as member of his Council for Personnel Policy, which decides on all major government appointments.


Khasbulatov, meanwhile, got a hero's welcome when he arrived Wednesday in his native Chechnya, the tiny North Caucasus republic that has declared independence from Russia.


"I have come here privately to visit my aging mother and refrain from making any political statements or actions," Itar-Tass quoted Khasbulatov as saying on his arrival.


While Rutskoi has kept a high profile, Khasbulatov has said repeatedly since his release that he will retire from Russian politics.


At the Chechen capital of Grozny, however, thousands of Chechens shot off fireworks and fired automatic rifles into the air as Khasbulatov left the airport in a large motorcade, Itar-Tass reported.


The welcome indicates that some of his countrymen may see Khasbulatov as an alternative leader to the dictatorial President Dzokhar Dudayev.


Dudayev had been a fierce opponent of Russia's former parliament speaker, who had opposed Chechnya's grab for regional autonomy. But Dudayev has warmed to him, at least publicly, since Khasbulatov gained near-martyr status among Chechens after his arrest.


In a telephone interview with The Moscow Times, Chechen Vice President Zelimkha Yandarbiyev denied rumors that Chechen government officials planned to meet Khasbulatov or invite him to become an adviser to Dudayev.


Itar-Tass reported that Dudayev's representatives had joined the welcoming party, but Yandarbiyev said he had not heard about any such delegation.