Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 60

Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia’s normally bland outgoing prime minister, has become noticeably more abrasive since losing office. Yesterday, he distanced himself publicly from Yeltsin for the first time, saying that the "Russia is Our Home" (ROH) movement he leads will go into opposition if it does not approve of the new government’s policies. ROH has scheduled a congress on April 25 at which it plans to turn itself into a political party and begin its campaign for the 1999 parliamentary elections. (RTR, March 26)

Chernomyrdin’s waspish behavior suggests that ROH is now looking beyond Yeltsin to its own survival and that the "post-Yeltsin" era has begun. ROH may not survive: It did poorly in the 1995 elections, its leadership is lackluster and it has so far developed no policies of its own. Chernomyrdin made it clear yesterday that ROH will try to unite Russia’s straggling "democrats" under its banner. This will bring the party into competition with Yabloko — whose leader, Grigory Yavlinsky, is also aiming to rally the quarreling "democrats." Yabloko also faces the task of turning itself into a political party to fight in the next election.