Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 88

Gennady Zyuganov–leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)–defended the Primakov government yesterday as “the first coalition government of the last eight years” and warning that if Yeltsin dismisses the cabinet, “it will be the president’s last exercise” (Russian agencies, May 5). Vladimir Zhirinovsky predicted that the attempts to impeach Yeltsin, led by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), would fail. The Duma is expected to take up the question of impeachment on May 13.

While it is unlikely that supporters of impeachment currently have the 300 votes necessary for the measure to pass the State Duma, some observers say the measure would pass if Yeltsin fired First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, who belongs to the KPRF, or Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik, who belongs to the leftist Agrarian Party–not to mention if he fires Primakov. Zhirinovsky, meanwhile, said that while KPRF leader Zyuganov was warning that the cabinet will be replaced, “there will be instead a replacement of the State Duma, the government and political parties.” Zhirinovsky said that Yeltsin should ban all political groups with the word “communist” in their names (Russian agencies, May 5).

In an interview published yesterday, Primakov denied for the umpteenth time that he harbors presidential ambitions (Komsomolskaya pravda, May 5). Nevertheless, first deputy Kremlin administration chief Oleg Sysuev gave Primakov something far short of a ringing endorsement, saying that “there are no irreplaceable premiers” and that Yeltsin, he believes, “naturally has a set of names, who, if necessary can replace any person, including the prime minister.” Pressed by the interviewer as to whether Yeltsin has concrete possible replacements for Primakov, Sysuev said, “of course” (Vlast, May 5). Anonymous high-level Kremlin officials, meanwhile, were quoted as saying that former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko was being considered (Kommersant, May 6). This would suggest that the Kremlin is pursuing a strategy of trying to weaken and isolate Primakov by surrounding him with ideological aliens (see the Monitor, May 5).

Primakov’s press secretary, meanwhile, reported today he would spend the day at his dacha, where he would combine work with recovering from extreme back pain (Russian agencies, May 6).