New Parliament Will Be Much like the One Yeltsin Ousted

Article excerpt

The new Russian parliament will be less obstructionist than initial vote results indicated, but still less cooperative than President Boris Yeltsin had hoped, according to near-final tallies.

The Duma promises to be even more circuslike than its predecessor, with its ranks including a television psychic and a renowned strongman.

With about 96 percent of Russia's districts reporting, the pro-reform Russia's Choice bloc appeared to have gained 58 seats in the Duma, the key lower chamber of the parliament. That compares to 59 seats for ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party, and 74 seats for the Communist Party together with its probable ally, the Agrarian Party.

Russia's Choice claimed that together with its seats in the upper chamber, the Federation Council, it would be the biggest faction in the parliament.

But for Yeltsin, that is not the point. The essence of the new parliament's makeup is that it seems barely better than the anti-reform bastion he dissolved Sept. 21.

The bad news for Yeltsin began when initial voting returns on half of the Duma showed that Zhirinovsky's populist harangues had won his party first place among a national list of 13 parties. Because the party list results were the first to be announced, Zhirinovsky's success dominated election reports, raising the specter that neo-fascism might come to dominate Russian politics.

But as the picture of the new parliament has filled out, it has come to resemble the old picture. Aside from Zhirinovsky's unpredictable bloc of seats, reformists are once again badly outnumbered, mainly by a mix of Communists and conservative local leaders.

Yeltsin may have more hope for the upper chamber, the Federation Council, analysts believe.

An alliance "with the Federation Council is particularly necessary because it could neutralize the dangerous Duma," presidential political adviser Emil Pain said. …