Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 162

. Valentin Kuptsov, a member of the Communist party’s top leadership, told reporters yesterday that it is premature to speculate about the possibility of Communist involvement in the cabinet before a full scale meeting of the party’s Central Committee scheduled for Jan. 10-11. He was commenting on Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s publicly expressed readiness to offer a number of portfolios to professionals from the Communist party. He did caution that Communist involvement in the government was possible on one condition only — "a change of economic course." (9)

With presidential elections just six months away, the Central Committee is virtually certain to vote against Communist participation in the cabinet in favor of playing the role of strict opposition in the Duma. It would not want its potential presidential candidate, party leader Gennady Zyuganov, to face the electorate tarred with even partial responsibility for the country’s situation. The Communists may therefore steer a cautious course in the Duma, more or less assuring a dull parliament with mainly negative achievements. Zyuganov may also pass on any radical anti-reform agenda to renationalize or expropriate property, so as not to rally centrist and democratic forces against him prematurely. Kuptsov’s highlighting of the demand for a change of the government’s economic course as a condition for Communist participation–a demand he knows the government must find unacceptable–suggests the party already has its excuse why it just can’t say "yes" to Chernomyrdin’s clever offer.

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