Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russian Troops Seal off Parliament as Regions Urge a Compromise THE ULTIMATUM

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russian Troops Seal off Parliament as Regions Urge a Compromise THE ULTIMATUM

Article excerpt

AS Russia's political crisis heads into its second week, tensions markedly rose Sept. 28 when the Russian government deployed thousands of troops to seal off the White House, Russia's parliament.

Citing the threat of violence by the armed volunteers and extremists now holed up in the White House, Moscow authorities moved at dawn on that day to barricade the building from the outside, using trucks and barbed wire and backed by at least 2,000 additional Interior Ministry troops.

"They want to turn us into something like a closed concentration camp," parliament chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov told reporters later in the day.

There is a growing concern that the standoff could escalate into a violent confrontation, perhaps provoked by the forces inside the building. On Sept. 28, at 11 a.m., the Moscow authorities broadcast an ultimatum from loudspeakers outside the building demanding that the defenders turn in their weapons in 24 hours.

Economist and political leader Grigory Yavlinksy warned that "irresponsible forces" have taken the ascendancy within the White House, adding "they have political interest to provoke a clash."

The escalation of pressure by the government seems to reflect a concern among President Boris Yeltsin's supporters that a continuation of the standoff may work against the president. Despite Mr. Yeltsin's ability to isolate his parliament foes, he is faced by a movement of Russia's regional governments to seek a some form of compromise.

Regional governments are calling for Yeltsin to agree to hold simultaneous early elections for the president and the parliament. Yeltsin, who is planning a parliamentary vote in December and a presidential vote next June, has opposed such a step, saying it would lead to a power vacuum.

"Dual power is very dangerous today," Yeltsin said on Sept. 27. "A power vacuum is even more dangerous, when both powers {president and parliament} are engaged in elections and have no time to work."

Presidential spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov, meanwhile, issued a tough warning to regional leaders. …

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