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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Change of Heart

An ungrammatical turn of phrase that was introduced into political jargon during perestroika -- "to exchange" rather than "to exchange opinions" -- has suddenly taken on a real meaning. State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov went to the president with one opinion on the candidacy for prime minister and left with another. We shall never know what precisely during the process of exchange made such a deep impression on the Duma speaker. To buy him off is difficult: He is not just any old deputy. He has, one must suppose, everything he already desires. It is more logical to suppose that he is not bought off, but frightened. By what?

Judging from everything, Seleznyov is clearly convinced that the president is ready to dismiss the lower house and perhaps even considers dismissing the Duma to be the most desirable solution to the government crisis.

True, the Communist Party leaders have on more than one occasion said they were prepared for early elections and that in this case the president would get an even more uncompromising body of deputies than the current one. Many political commentators have come to the same conclusion, pointing to the lack of promised economic successes and the building dissatisfaction in the country toward the reforms. But the justification for such forecasts is not evident. The voters are disappointed not only with the "party of power" but with [Gennady] Zyuganov's and [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky's followers as well.

Noviye Izvestia

Divided Communists

According to sources in the Communist Duma faction, the forthcoming vote on [acting Prime Minister Sergei] Kiriyenko's candidacy will be a big trial for the Communist Party, no matter what the outcome. Many high-level Communist Party figures opposed to the Zyuganov-[Valentin] Kuptsov bloc consider a vote "against" [Kiriyenko] to be a primitive provocation that would lead to the disbanding of the State Duma -- the main pre-election headquarters for the No. 1 opposition force.

If those party figures are to be believed, Monday's Communist Party presidium very clearly demonstrated that the political battle in the Central Committee and in the Communist faction is reaching the stage of military action. The first symptom of such a radical division was the intensive efforts by functionaries who support the general secretary to oust Viktor Ilyukhin, who today is considered the chief representative of the irreconcilable wing of the opposition.

On the other hand, the Zyuganov-Kuptsov line cannot find support among the Communist electorate. The Communist Party leadership's non-stop curtsying to Viktor Chernomyrdin can be explained by Chernomyrdin having embodied the possibility of the Communist Party's gentle, creeping penetration into the executive branch. Today, in the absence of Chernomyrdin as prime minister, the party must now explain to the Communist masses what it spent its efforts on, at least since 1996, and why the Communist Party has not managed to take power.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 17