Reform Critics Band in Russian Parliament to Counter Yeltsin Opposition Leaders Call It a `Movement of Reconciliation'; Critics See a Pretext for Uniting Nationalists, Communists

Article excerpt

EARLIER this month, Valery Zorkin, the former head of Russia's suspended Constitutional Court, found a new hobby.

A soft-spoken man inclined toward outbursts of indignation, Mr. Zorkin has not been too busy since the court was suspended in October following the bloody uprising against President Boris Yeltsin. So he was delighted to be included among a band of Mr. Yeltsin's enemies who initiated the "Accord for Russia" movement, a retaliation against the domestic peace pact envisioned by the president to reconcile the forces splitting the country.

The movement, conceived after Yeltsin left Moscow for a two-week vacation in the Black Sea resort of Sochi confident that he was leaving behind a "calm" atmosphere, represents what its members call the "patriotic opposition." They advocate preserving the industrial-military complex, restoring the power of the state, putting an end to crime and corruption, and turning back Yeltsin's market reforms.

It calls itself a movement of reconciliation. But its critics see it as a pretext for uniting prominent nationalists with communists, and some members admit that its conception is simply a step toward all-out war against a politically weakened Yeltsin.

"When someone says that our association unites the Communists with the Nazis, it's a crude falsification," says Zorkin, who retained a seat on the 13-member court after he was fired as chairman and still keeps an office in the imposing courthouse in central Moscow. "We are uniting a broad spectrum of people. We call ourselves left-centrists."

In a letter circulated March 16 in the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, the 19 original initiators of the Accord exhorted "all patriotic forces and movements, ideologies and beliefs that reject violence, racism, and nationalism" to join together and "prevent the final collapse of historic Russia."

The diverse supporters include individuals who until recently would not have joined forces, such as former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, and Sergei Glazyev, Yeltsin's trade minister until last year. Mr. Rutskoi was recently released from prison where he was sent for inciting riots during the October uprising in which 147 people were killed.

Others include Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov; radical nationalist Sergei Baburin; and Sergei Prokhanov, the editor of Zaftra, an anti-Semitic weekly.

No reformist groups represented in the State Duma have joined the Accord, and the only major opposition leader who refused to sign up was Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party head.

"We did not invite Zhirinovsky, nor did we personally discuss our movement with him, but it is open to everyone," says Mr. Zyuganov, who says 150 members of the 444-seat Duma support the Accord and at least half eventually will join. "The salvation of the country lies in the single union of the popular national patriotic forces."

"I always said that the Communists are much more dangerous than Zhirinovsky," says former Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, who resigned from the Russian government in January along with other key reformers such as Yegor Gaidar. "It's obvious that these guys are getting organized, they're very serious, and they're not hysterical. That's the biggest danger." Blaming Yeltsin

Zyuganov and other members of the Accord hold Yeltsin personally responsible for what the Communist leader calls the "deep crisis" in the country, beginning with the destruction of the Soviet Union, followed by a widening gap between rich and poor combined with "kow-towing" to the West in return for aid, and climaxed by the October events. …

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.