Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: What if Yeltsin Fights to Stay ... But Loses?

One would think the political beau monde would permit itself to relax a bit in the hot summer months, in an atmosphere of almost-forgotten relative economic and political stability. Moscow, however, is filled with alarming rumors and expectations about an unconstitutional course of events. No one believes that HE is really planning to step down. Carrying out the Duma elections on time is wonderful, but, according to the constitution, real power belongs to the president, and we have never had a legal transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another. It is not like the transfer from the 35th to the 36th. It is much more complicated and much more important to the country than democratically choosing the president the first time.

He f and, even more so, "the family" f do not want to leave. A union with Belarus, a confederalization of the country, a state of emergency connected with the situation in the Caucasus f this is the set of variants feverishly being discussed in the Kremlin. Everyone is writing about this every day f and quite rightly so. It seems to me, however, that the degree of "the family's" political isolation, the degree of society's almost physiological rejection of it, is already so great, that all of these plans are doomed to failure.

There is, as I see it, a different danger in these plans. The extra-constitutional intentions of "the family" could provoke the political class to take preventive measures that themselves might sneak beyond the boundaries of the constitutional field. A scenario in which President Boris Yeltsin voluntarily leaves office at the persistent urgings of the leaders of both parliamentary chambers, and the lawful prime minister carries out new presidential elections three months later, seems too serene in the context of our historical experience.

I am afraid that it will all end with some kind of Committee for National Salvation or Government of Public Accord, which will forget for a long while about any elections at all, for fully understandable and objective reasons. Take our beloved Yevgeny Maksimovich, who by some strange laws of political physiognomy reminds one more and more of beloved Leonid Ilich. He has finally offered his long-awaited voice from distant Switzerland, saying he is ready under certain circumstances to serve the Fatherland.

If Primakov really is that loved by the people, as his ecstatic fans from the Council for Foreign and Security Policy assure us every day, then God grant him the chance to participate in the presidential elections and defeat all his rivals. But given all his debatable and non-debateable merits, Yevgeny Maksimovich possesses an absolute aversion toward public politics. He would like f very much like f to become the head of state. This breathed from every line of the crafty January letter "on public consent," which cost him the premiership. Only he would like to do so without all this electoral idiocy like dancing at rock concerts or, even more so, engaging in public debates with opponents. He would like them to come and beg him to become father of the nation and savior of society.

To part in a dignified way with one elderly former alternate member to the Soviet Politburo without having another one dumped on us: Here is the modest task for Russia's fragile democracy at the threshold of the third millennium.