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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Aide Says Reds Plan 'Seizure Of Power'

Less than three weeks before the presidential election, a top adviser to President Boris Yeltsin warned Thursday that the Communist Party is preparing an "illegitimate seizure of power" that could force the Kremlin to declare a state of emergency.

Georgy Satarov, the president's aide on political questions, made his comments at a press conference organized by the Yeltsin election campaign and appeared to continue a strategy of frightening voters into support for the president.

The conference was devoted to the theme: "The Communists are preparing Russia for civil war."

"For a while, the [Communist Party] froze their fighting units. But the finger is now on the trigger and at a given moment the trigger will be pulled," Satarov said.

Satarov said the communists and Zyuganov's "people's patriotic coalition" are trying to convince the public that a Yeltsin victory can only be the result of cheating by the federal authorities.

This, he said, could lead to a contested vote and, ultimately, to a confrontation between the authorities and communist "fighting units."

Most observers of Russia's previous elections believe there has been fraud, but to what extent and by whom remains a matter of controversy. The communists have for some time been warning voters that Yeltsin's camp would steal the election because they cannot win it.

Satarov on Thursday appeared to be firing back, and his comments were duly dismissed by a Communist Party representative.

"These are the same people who prepared the disinformation campaign about our economic program," said spokeswoman Irina Makayeva. The Communist Party, she added, keeps no "fighting units."

"If there is a falsification, we would sort that out only through the courts, by protesting the elections," she said.

Newspapers sympathetic to the communists and Commu places with 200,000 observers, who plan to carry out a parallel vote count. According to Satarov, Zyuganov's campaign has bragged that it will have the results of the vote before the Central Election Commission.

Satarov said such a parallel vote count would lead to a "confrontation." He also charged that Zyuganov's campaign plans to "flood" polling stations with observers. "In the disorder thereby created, it will be easier for them to falsify results," he said.

In the event of a Yeltsin victory, said Satarov, "a campaign that the results were falsified will begin." According to his scenario, the Communists will then publish the results of their vote count and each of the opposing sides will swear in their candidate as president.

The next stage, he said, could be a violent confrontation.

Satarov claimed that Zyuganov and his supporters recently began to realize that their chances for a legitimate victory in the June 16 vote "is slipping through their hands." He added that at a closed plenum earlier this month, decided that "it is time to dispense with democratic methods."

"The possible course of events looks as follows: The [Communist] fighting units are brought out not after the elections, but before the elections," he said. But the parliamentary uprising of October 1993, said Satarov, showed that the law enforcement organs "aren't always effective in such situations," and the authorities may be "forced to declare a state of emergency."

One analyst said Satarov's scenario has some plausibility.

"My impression is that the Communists are preparing for a decisive fight for power, using both legal and illegal methods," said Viktor Kremenyuk of the Russian Academy of Sciences' USA/Canada Institute.

Kremenyuk said that while one wing of the party believes it can win by the rules and wants to abide by them, another, including people such as Working Russia party leader Viktor Anpilov, "don't care about that."

Another observer, however, said that either Satarov was just indulging in some purple campaign rhetoric or the Kremlin is keeping open the possibility of declaring the elections invalid.

"I don't think there is any serious evidence that the Communists are preparing a civil war," said Andrei Kortunov of the Russian Science Foundation. "They still think they can win, so why should they do that in an unconstitutional way?"

-- Matt Bivens contributed to this report.