Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 89

The group of thirteen leading Russian financiers who caused such a stir when, on April 26, they appealed to the leading presidential candidates to negotiate a pre-election compromise, have issued another statement. "Recent developments have increased our concern over Russia’s future," they say. Referring to General Korzhakov’s call for postponing the presidential elections, the bankers contend that "The extreme forces surrounding the leading candidates have revealed themselves." The financiers call on the candidates to distance themselves from "extremists" and negotiate a compromise "for the sake of Russia’s future." (Interfax, May 6)

Meanwhile, debate continues in the Russian media over the significance of the bankers’ original (and equally vaguely worded) appeal. Some commentators have suggested that the financiers were really calling for cancellation of the elections, though their latest statement seems to rule out that interpretation. Others have suggested the bankers were advocating a coalition government, perhaps with Yeltsin as president and Zyuganov as premier.

Opinions are similarly divided over the appropriateness of the initiative. Yeltsin’s economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits bluntly advised the businessmen that politics is not their business and should be left to the politicians. (RTR, May 5) But the influential Kommersant daily, in an editorial this week, applauded the fact that Russian business is now sufficiently mature to express and defend its own interests. Those interests, the business-oriented newspaper said, can be summed up in one word: "stability."

So far, President Yeltsin has ignored the initiative, and reports of Zyuganov’s meeting with the bankers say that he restricted the conversation to a general discussion of the state of the economy.

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