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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Yeltsin Could Use a Small, Victorious War

The fattest rats are already abandoning the sinking ship of presidential power. The latest to leave are presidential aide Sergei Shakhrai and Deputy Chief of Staff Igor Shabdurasulov. The defection of the latter, who is regarded to be very close to administration chief Valentin Yumashev, is especially telling. Can the president completely rely on Yumashev himself?

What if one fine day Yumashev were to enter the president's office somewhere in Barvikha or Gorki-9 with a group of honorable gentlemen -- the Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov and the leaders of various party factions?

Briefly describing the situation in the country, the country's leading politicians could suggest to the president that the only way out is for him to resign. The TV stations, which belong to the oligarchs, could broadcast this event, embellishing their reporting with highly professional camera shots of striking miners, defense workers and scientists.

What could President Boris Yeltsin do to oppose not a plot to seize power, but an entirely democratic and constitutional expression of public opinion?

One of Yeltsin's most nightmarish memories is the night of Oct. 3 to 4 in 1993, when his power hung on a thread and, after all-night discussions and drinking sessions, he finally managed to convince General Pavel Grachev to bring in four tanks, which were a decisive solution to his fight for power.

Today, Marshall Igor Sergeyev could not provide Yeltsin with even a single tank. The tens of thousands of people who gathered around the White House in August 1991 and thousands in front of the Mossoviet in October 1993 would not turn out this time. The people who brought Yeltsin to power feel betrayed. And the people to whom Yeltsin personally handed over state property, power and the mass media are now sick of him. He annoys them with his caprices, unpredictability and inadequacy. The oligarchs have already for some time wanted to run the country directly without having to gratify any longer his bodyguards, daughters, members of the administration, sons-in-law. They need a "cheaper president."

So does this mean Yeltsin would have no way of countering such an intrigue, and would be forced to give up power? In my view, he does have such means at his disposal. There is a group of people who, under certain conditions, are prepared and able to support Yeltsin. These are the generals who lost the war in Chechnya, convinced that they were not allowed to win it. They feel personally humiliated from the defeat, and are thirsting for revenge.

If there were another provocation, wide-scale maneuvers by General Leonty Shevtsov's temporary operative group in the North Caucasus could easily be expanded on orders from the supreme commander into a second small victorious war.

A couple of urgently organized terrorist acts in Moscow could lead to a state of emergency. Who prevented our valiant military leaders and commander-in-chief from winning the first small victorious war? Of course, the traitors on TV. This would not be repeated a second time. Miners on the rails? It would be necessary to apply martial law to those who were obstructing the path of military echelons.

Backed into a corner by popular discontent and the oligarchs' intrigues, Yeltsin would be prepared, in order to hold on to his evasive power, to cast Russia into its last catastrophe of the 20th century.