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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Considers 'Unity' Coalition

President Boris Yeltsin said Wednesday that he will consider the idea of creating a "government of people's unity" after meeting with rival candidate Svyatoslav Fyodorov, who went further to say that Yeltsin had "agreed" with the need for such a coalition.


Yeltsin's comments gave the first indication that he personally, rather than his aides, would be open to considering a compromise that would at the least reduce the importance of June's presidential polls, if not cause their cancellation.


Fyodorov was the last of the three presidential candidates in the collapsed "Third Force" alliance who Yeltsin had invited to the Kremlin for private discussions.


The eye surgeon said he had told Yeltsin that the political situation is "very alarming," with the country divided into "red" and "white" and the danger of "some form of civil war" looming.


"Therefore I told Boris Nikolayevich that today the issues, both in politics and economics, can be resolved only through the creation of a government of people's unity," Fyodorov told reporters.


Yeltsin, he said, "agreed with that, and believes that it is really necessary to create such a government. And he believes it should be formed immediately."


Yeltsin told Itar-Tass after the meeting that he had promised "to thoroughly think over the idea," although his press office gave a rather more skeptical spin on Yeltsin's response than Fyodorov, saying Yeltsin's initial reaction was contain "communists and socialists and capitalists" -- including Zyuganov.


This appears to have been the implication of growing numbers of calls for a pre-election "compromise" that were started off by an appeal from 13 of Russia's biggest businessmen.


On Wednesday the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, headed by Yeltsin ally Arkady Volsky, also appealed for "national accord." The eye surgeon did not say Yeltsin had rejected the possibility of including Communists, but Zyuganov has rejected it, doing so again while stumping on the campaign trail in the Ural mountains Wednesday, RIA news agency reported.


Fyodorov said he told Yeltsin the "government of people's unity" should be created between the first presidential vote, scheduled for June 16, and a likely runoff, expected to be held on July 7.


The eye surgeon said this would be the best time, because by then it would be clear who should head the executive branch of government. If the coalition is formed today, and it then becomes clear that there will be a different president, "it will fall apart," he said.


Fyodorov said the president had told him he would think about the timing.


"I suggested between the first and second rounds; he believes that maybe it is possible now," Fyodorov said.


He said Yeltsin also told him "he needs time to think about who will be in that government" and to consult with his close aides and cabinet members.


Meanwhile, Sergei Filatov, Yeltsin's campaign co-chairman, told reporters in Vladimir that the president has a good chance of beating Zyuganov in the first round if he secures the support of Yavlinsky, Fyodorov and Lebed, Interfax reported. He also said that Yeltsin plans to publish his 100-page campaign platform on Monday.


Lebed, however, appeared to put an end to speculation about his joining any alliance, telling Itar-Tass while campaigning in Novosibirsk, "I am not ready to give up anything to anyone and do not intend to consider any other versions."


Yeltsin also plans to campaign in Siberia this weekend, when he is due to visit the cities of Krasnoyarsk and Omsk.


Ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky predicted that Yeltsin will be re-elected but declared his readiness to join a broad coalition if it were created.


"The country needs either a broad coalition where the leading political forces will be represented, or my victory," Interfax quoted him as saying during a Moscow news conference.