Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Continuing Blasts in Russia Put Heat on Yeltsin after Yesterday's Bomb, Politicians Are Calling on the President To

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Continuing Blasts in Russia Put Heat on Yeltsin after Yesterday's Bomb, Politicians Are Calling on the President To

Article excerpt

President Boris Yeltsin appears to be in the hot seat after another suspected terrorist bomb went off in Russia yesterday.

Five blasts have rocked the country in the past month, killing nearly 300 people. Some leaders have blamed Chechen rebels for the attacks, although they have denied responsibility.

With fear mushrooming that more violence could come, people are holding Mr. Yeltsin personally accountable for the security problems. And leading Russian politicians are calling on him to resign.

"Everyone can see that the main threat to Russia today is the president," says Sergei Metrokhin, a deputy with the liberal Yabloko Party in the Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament.

"He is to blame for initiating the war against Chechnya {which took place from 1994 to 1996} ... and for all the security blunders that have happened since. Our security system is clearly not working."

Russian newspapers have been full of speculation for days that Yeltsin may soon quit to clear the way for fresh presidential elections.

According to Russia's Constitution, if the president resigns the prime minister takes his place for three months, and then new polls must be held.

Last month Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin, head of the former KGB internal security service, prime minister and anointed him as his successor.

If Yeltsin resigned soon, that would force new presidential polls in December, the same time elections for the Duma and the Moscow mayor's post are to be held.

The supposed advantage for the Kremlin inner circle is that their main rivals, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, would be tied up with the other elections at that time.

"Luzhkov is enemy No. 1 for the Kremlin, and he would not want to risk losing his mayor's job by running for president in December," says Andrei Piontkovsky, director of the independent Center for Strategic Studies. …

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