say they expect no change in Russian policies, but that is just rote reassurance, not inside information. Boris Yeltsin for a week has said nothing on this subject at all, and neither he nor any other senior Russian official called Washington to discuss the mass dismissals either before or after the event. That includes Viktor Chernomyrdin, who spent several days in Washington with "Al" at a meeting of the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission earlier this month.

President Yeltsin’s action undoubtedly weakens Russia’s democratic political institutions, at least in the short run. The elected lower house of parliament, the Duma, was not consulted. The elected governors of Russia’s 89 regions were similarly ignored. There was no public debate in the press. One talking head on Moscow’s