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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fear of Red Kremlin Joins Chubais, Yeltsin

President Boris Yeltsin on Friday derided his communist rivals as "yesterday's people" whose time on the political stage is running out.


Yeltsin, speaking to construction workers in Moscow, said: "Our opponents understand that time works against them," Reuters reported.


"Several more years and 'the people of yesterday' will finally leave Russia's political life," Yeltsin added.


His remarks echoed equally aggressive sallies a day earlier from Anatoly Chubais, former first deputy prime minister for the economy, who announced that just two months after he was sacked and blamed for the pro-government party's loss of the parliamentary elections, he was joining Yeltsin's campaign.


Chubais, the architect of Russia's privatization program, said Thursday: "My logic is very simple. My main goal is not to allow [Communist leader Gennady] Zyuganov to become president of Russia and ... my understanding is that the only way to reach this goal is to support President Yeltsin."


He told a group of foreign journalists that he now meets with Yeltsin "more often now than I did when I was in power," Reuters reported.


Following Chubais' forced resignation in mid-January, the Russian president denounced him for having sold off Russia's blue-chip enterprises "for a song" -- a reference to last year's controversial loans-for-shares scheme -- and blamed him for the poor performance of Our Home Is Russia, the pro-government political party in December's Duma elections.


It is not entirely clear what role Chubais, who has created a Fund for the Protection of Private Property, will play in the campaign, and Chubais himself has not clarified the issue. He said one of his major roles will be "to tell Yeltsin the truth," The Associated Press reported.


Some analysts think that the man who has been called a "genius of administration" will concentrate on trying to resolve some of the Yeltsin campaign's serious organizational problems, which led to a major overhaul this week.


"My understanding is that he will be trying to use his organizational skills, because in the presidential administration there was nobody who was able to do logistics," said Vladimir Mau, deputy director of Yegor Gaidar's Institute for the Economy in Transition.


An official in the presidential administration, however, said that Chubais will have a more substantive, strategic role in the campaign.


Viktor Borisyuk, an official at the presidential analytical center, said: "He has gathered together a wonderful analytical team. He is a smart man with great experience in the financial and economic spheres, and in his last post he gathered great knowledge about the political situation in the country."


Chubais already seems to be elaborating certain campaign themes. In an interview published Tuesday in Commersant Daily, for instance, he stressed that the privatized apartments now owned by millions of Russians may be endangered by a Communist victory.


Analysts agreed that the technocratic Chubais will be less effective in trying to win back to the president's side supporters of the disillusioned and fractured democratic movement.


Chubais' support, said Nikolai Petrov of the Moscow center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is "perhaps essential support for Mr. Yeltsin, but I don't think it's essential in terms of attracting the electorate."


Mau said this role would be better for Yegor Gaidar, leader of Russia's Democratic Choice. But the former prime minister and architect of Russia's economic reforms has so far not declared his support for Yeltsin.


A spokesman for Gaidar said Friday the question of backing Yeltsin will be decided at a party congress in mid-April. Mau said even if the party decides to endorse the Russian president, Gaidar will probably not announce it until mid-May.


"The problem is that if Gaidar proclaimed his support for Yeltsin immediately, it is very clear that Yeltsin would try to demonstrate that he is to the left of Gaidar, in order to appeal to the electorate on the left-wing side," he said. "That is why Gaidar is trying to avoid supporting Yeltsin until the last moment. And Yeltsin understands this."


Meanwhile, the Russian president's main opponent charged Friday that the results of the June 16 vote may falsified. Zyuganov said the electronic vote-counting system may be tampered with "directly from foreign satellites," Interfax reported. He proposed a series of "outlines for defense."


The electronic vote-count Zyuganov referred to will only be experimental.