Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yeltsin Prevails, Military Crushes Parliament Forces President Holds onto Support, but Tragic Outcome Could Be Costly

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Yeltsin Prevails, Military Crushes Parliament Forces President Holds onto Support, but Tragic Outcome Could Be Costly

Article excerpt

WITH the boom of tank cannons and the rattle of machine-gun fire, Russia's political crisis reached its unfortunate climax yesterday.

From the outbreak of violence by armed supporters of the hard-line deputies of the Russian parliament on Sunday afternoon, it was clear that the government of President Boris Yeltsin had little choice but to respond with overwhelming force. If President Yeltsin had not acted decisively to crush the attempted armed uprising, it is very likely that his government would have met its own political demise, perhaps by the end of the day.

Yeltsin prevailed, thanks in large part to the loyalty of the Russian armed forces, which poured armor and troops into Moscow to crush the rebellion in the White House, Russia's parliament building. Hundreds of parliament supporters and troops filed out of the building in surrender after battle tanks shelled the White House and government commandos seized the lower floors of the building.

{Estimates of 500 killed in the battle for the White House could not be confirmed. Parliament chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov and Vice President Alexander Rutskoi surrendered to government forces, Yeltsin aide Dmitri Rurikov told CNN. He added that their personal safety would be guaranteed.}

Equally important for what follows, the president clearly enjoys the understanding, if not the support, of the vast majority of the Russian people and of regional leaders. Whatever doubts there have been, and still may be, about the rightness of Yeltsin's decision on Sept. 21 to dissolve the rebellious parliament, there seems to be little question that the government was compelled to respond with force. (Reporter's notebook, Page 2).

Western governments, led by the United States, were quick to back the Russian leader in the necessity to restore order with force. Outside of Russia, the leaders of other former Soviet republics also gave their approval. According to the official Itar-Tass news agency, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan expressed their belief that "the Russian president and government will do their utmost to stop provocateurs and defend democracy."

Even among opponents of the president in Russia's regions, there is no evidence of support for the extremist actions of the antigovernment forces. And if the government can prove to the populace the truth of its account of events, there are indications that support will swing totally to the government's column.

"The regional soviet, its leadership, does not approve, does not support Yeltsin's actions," says Pavel Bolshakov, a spokesman for the regional soviet of Chelyabinsk, a stronghold of anti-Yeltsin feeling. "Everyone is at a complete loss," he continued in a telephone interview yesterday. "People don't know how trustworthy is the only TV channel that still goes on broadcasting. …

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